Valverde Brings Heat in 2nd LFT Appearance

LAKELAND, FL -- For the second time in as many days, former Tigers' closer Jose Valverde took the mound for the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Pitching on consecutive days for the first time since signing his minor league contract, Valverde tossed a scoreless, hitless inning of relief Saturday evening. (BONUS FEATURE: PHOTO GALLERY OF VALVERDE IN ACTION)

Valverde worked quickly, needing just eight mid-90s fastballs in his relief appearance against the Dunedin Blue Jays.

Similar to Friday, the outing started a little rocky as Valverde issued a four-pitch walk to Dunedin's leadoff batter.

"Nobody wants to walk the first guy," Valverde stated when asked about his second consecutive lead-off walk.

The 35-year-old right-hander quickly settled though, firing back-to-back 94 mph fastballs to get ahead in the count. Valverde's third pitch of the at-bat was a hard hit fly ball to deep right center. Thankfully, right-fielder Jeff McVaney got a good jump, easily recording the out, forcing K. C. Hobson back to first base.

"When I see the fly, I'm thinking double; easy," said Valverde. "Of course I was happy that he catch it." Valverde's third and final batter of the inning was jammed on a 95 mph fastball, resulting in a 6-3 double play.

Valverde agreed that pitching on consecutive days was a step in the right direction on his quest to re-join the Tigers.

"I feel great about the back-to-back," Valverde proudly stated. "I think I'm exactly where I need to be."

Valverde was noticeably proud of his velocity, smiling while mentioning the number 96 several times throughout the post-game interview.

When asked what he's done mechanically to re-achieve the zip on his fastball, Valverde stated, "You never know. I felt great at the end of last year. I just had two bad days. Everyone has bad days."

As for what's in store for Valverde in the immediate future...

"I don't know yet," said Valverde. "I'm doing my job. I just wait to see what they tell me tomorrow."

Photo Gallery of Valverde in Lakeland Friday and Saturday:

For more on Jose Valverde in Lakeland, check out Saturday's story, which includes more quotes from Jose, as well as pitch charting, noting how many splitters were thrown and what his velocity clocked in at.

Valverde Impressive in Lakeland Debut

James Chipman is the Lakeland Correspondent for TigsTown. Be sure to follow him on twitter @JAYRC_TigsTown.

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