Mets reliever Jose Valverde is very likely to be in the team’s Opening Day bullpen (Star-Ledger, Mar. 18).
“I don’t know where, but he’s certainly making a very, very strong case for a guy who’s going to pitch in the back side of that bullpen, no doubt,” Terry Collins said Monday. “He just takes it even keel every day, and if we’re as young as we think we’re going to be we’re going to need that.”
Valverde, 35, signed a minor-league contract with the Mets this past winter, after being released from the Tigers last year with a 5.59 ERA in just 20 games. He was 49-for-49 in save chances with the Tigers in 2011.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
The more I learn about Valverde, the more I like him. He’s got a big arm, a big personality, a big resume, a lot of experience and little risk (in terms of his contract). Terry Collins said he called Jim Leyland to better understand Valverde’s struggles in 2013. According to Leyland, Valverde is fine, Collins has said. The big problem was that he got Valverde warming up in the bullpen too often, or what coaches call ‘get ups,’ then he never got Valverde in to games. He was often burned out before ever pitching. It happened enough to begin throwing Valverde off his game. Time will tell if this has any impact on a better 2014, but if it does, it will go a long way toward stabilizing what the bullpen, which is a perceived weakness on this team.