Detroit Tigers right-hander Jose Valverde is on track to face Class A hitters this weekend, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
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The Tigers' current plan is to have Valverde stay in Florida to pitch for Class A Lakeland over the weekend. The veteran reliever could then be promoted to Triple-A, but general manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters that this tentative schedule could be delayed if the weather proves difficult.
Detroit signed Valverde to a minor league contract earlier this month. The agreement doesn't offer him a guarantee to reach the majors, and he can opt out of the deal on May 5.
Valverde had been the Tigers' closer for the past three seasons prior to parting ways with the club over the winter. He was solid in 2010 and converted all 49 of his save opportunities in 2011, but he struggled with consistency last season. Ultimately, Detroit removed Valverde from the role of closer in the playoffs.
Over 10 seasons in the majors, Valverde owns a career ERA of 3.11 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.62. The 35-year-old has posted a mark of 3.00 over the past three seasons.