CLEVELAND -- For the first time in six days, the Tigers have their bullpen back in order. Jose Valverde was available again to close after missing close to a week with a lower back strain.
"Thank God I don't feel anything right now," Valverde said in the Tigers clubhouse before batting practice. "Right now, I feel perfect."
That's a good feeling for manager Jim Leyland, who had moved everyone up an inning from their customary roles to help fill the gap, which left some middle innings in the hands of lesser-tested arms.
Whenever Valverde does pitch, it'll be his first outing since May 15, when he gave up two hits and a walk while trying to pitch through the back issue he felt two batters into the inning.
The Tigers have had an extra reliever on their roster while Valverde was out, having recalled Brayan Villarreal from Triple-A Toledo late last week and sending down infielder Danny Worth. As long as Valverde is healthy and available, the Tigers will presumably make a move soon to get back to a 12-man pitching staff and 13-man positional roster.
Raburn placed on bereavement list
CLEVELAND -- Tigers second baseman Ryan Raburn will miss the three-game series against the Indians this week to return home to Florida following the death of his grandmother.
The Tigers have placed Raburn on Major League Baseball's bereavement list. No further details were given on the situation with Raburn and his family. By rule, he will miss the next three days before he's eligible to rejoin the team.
Manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday that Raburn is expected to rejoin the team Friday in Minnesota, where the Tigers will open a three-game series against the Twins.
To take Raburn's place on the roster, the Tigers recalled infielder Danny Worth, who was optioned to Triple-A Toledo last Wednesday to make room for an extra reliever while Jose Valverde was sidelined over the weekend with a lower back strain. Under normal circumstances, the Tigers would've had to wait 10 days to recall Worth, who has played in 12 games during two different stints on the club this year. He's 3-for-17 at the plate this season.
The Tigers weren't in a position to leave Raburn on the active roster and go a position player short. Between Worth's subtraction for an extra reliever and Austin Jackson's abdominal strain that sidelined him last weekend, the Tigers have spent the last four games with just two position players available on their bench, one of them being backup catcher Gerald Laird.
Jackson could be DL bound; Berry recalled
CLEVELAND -- The Tigers felt positive enough about getting center fielder Austin Jackson back that they posted a lineup shortly before batting practice with Jackson back in his usual spot atop the batting order. That didn't last long.
By the end of Tuesday night, the Tigers had purchased Quintin Berry's contract from Triple-A Toledo as a fill-in, designated reliever Collin Balester for assignment and were staring at the possibility of placing Jackson on the disabled list if things don't improve in the coming days.
"We can take this opportunity to try to buy a little more time, but not a whole lot more, to be honest with you," manager Jim Leyland said of the Berry move. "We thought we could buy a couple more days with Austin, but right now, as we speak, it doesn't look particularly good."
Jackson said Tuesday afternoon that he felt good taking swings in the batting cage at Progressive Field and was going to take full batting practice, run bases and shag fly balls in the outfield as a final clearance. After one round of swings, however, he felt more pain and shut himself down.
"It's the initial movement once I go to hit the ball, that's just kind of grabbing a little bit," Jackson said. "It grabs at the moment, right before you make contact, and I have nothing behind it. I know it's definitely getting better, because I was able to run more freely, but just trying to hit 92-95 [mph fastballs] right now, I don't think it's ready for that."
Berry will start in center field Wednesday against Cleveland starter Zach McAllister, Leyland said. He hit .270 (43-for-159) in 39 games at Toledo with eight doubles, no home runs and 11 RBIs. He has stolen 19 bases in 22 attempts.
"He's got real good speed and he's a real good defender," Leyland said. "We'll just have to wait and see, but I'm going to put him in the lineup tomorrow night."
Balester, the return from Washington in last winter's Ryan Perry trade, allowed 13 earned runs on 14 hits in 18 innings, walking 11 and striking out 12. He's out of Minor League options, so he would have to clear waivers for the Tigers to outright him to Toledo.
Tigers have decision to make on Marte's return
CLEVELAND -- The waiting game is on for the Tigers to decide on reliever Luis Marte following his three innings of one-hit ball Monday at Triple-A Toledo as part of his rehab stint.
Leyland had no news as to whether Marte would be available to rejoin the Tigers later in the week once he gets enough rest to throw again. The report, however, was positive.
"He was very good, got a little tired, but he didn't really show it pitching," Leyland said of the outing, which team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski watched in person.