CLEVELAND -- Jose Valverde made his debut at Triple-A Toledo on Thursday by retiring the side in order in the ninth inning to finish out a 7-0 Mud Hens win. It marked his first outing since accepting an outright assignment to Toledo last week.
Valverde threw 12 pitches, six of them for strikes. He topped out at 94 mph on his fastball, according to the Toledo Blade, while mixing in three splitters.
"For me, he threw strikes," Hens manager Phil Nevin told The Blade. "He threw a couple of split-fingers that moved out of the zone, which you like to see."
Valverde's outing came after he told the Detroit Free Press that he anticipated being at Toledo for no more than two or three weeks to work out his pitches. The Tigers haven't publicly put a timetable on it, nor have they given any assurance that Valverde might be back.
What happens with Valverde might have as much to do with the success of the bullpen in Detroit, which manager Jim Leyland has said he's finally got in order over the last couple days.
Tigers option Alvarez to clear room for Anibal
CLEVELAND -- The Tigers made room for Anibal Sanchez's return from the disabled list Saturday by optioning his fill-in, Jose Alvarez, to Triple-A Toledo Friday night.
Alvarez tossed six innings of one-run ball against Cleveland in his Major League debut June 9 in a spot start for Sanchez, then returned for three more starts while Sanchez rehabbed a right shoulder strain. The 24-year-old left-hander lost his last two starts, allowing eight earned runs on 13 hits over 8 2/3 innings combined.
The move means Alvarez can't rejoin the Tigers before the All-Star break unless he replaces a player who's placed on the disabled list. Thus, if Rick Porcello loses his appeal early next week and has to begin his six-game suspension before his next scheduled start Wednesday, Alvarez can't return to take his place.
Tigers activate Tuiasosopo from DL, option Garcia
CLEVELAND -- Matt Tuiasosopo appeared to be on the verge of more regular playing time two weeks ago when a twinge around his rib cage on a batting practice swing turned into an intercostal strain and a stint on the 15-day disabled list. Now that he's back, time will tell if he can get back to that point.
The Tigers recalled Tuiasosopo from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo and activated him from the DL on Friday, the first day he was eligible to return. To make room, Detroit optioned Avisail Garcia back to Toledo.
Tuiasosopo went 2-for-5 with a double and two walks in his two-day rehab assignment with the Mud Hens. He had the option of spending the weekend with the Hens if he felt like he needed the at-bats, but he felt he was ready.
Tuiasosopo was batting .338 (24-for-71) with seven doubles, three home runs and 17 RBIs when he went on the DL, including 7-for-17 with five doubles, a home run and five RBIs in June.
For the 22-year-old Garcia, the move means more regular playing time to learn and develop in the Mud Hens outfield. Though Garcia became close to a regular in center field by the end of Austin Jackson's DL stint last month, he never found that same momentum when he returned to fill in for Tuiasosopo, going 1-for-15 with seven strikeouts over the last couple weeks.
"You're seeing what happens when you've got young players sitting around," manager Jim Leyland said on Wednesday. "They get rusty. His swing's lengthened out a little bit and he's chasing bad pitches. So the best tonic for him is to get down there, get back in the lineup every day.
"The best case for us is that we didn't need him until September, because he would have a lot of at-bats by then and should be pretty sharp."
Scherzer to go for more history in Monday's finale
CLEVELAND -- Max Scherzer will have a chance to match Roger Clemens' 14-0 start from 1986 when he takes the mound here at Progressive Field for Monday night's series finale against the Indians. From there, it's a short distance to record territory, and he'd match a Cleveland hero if he got it.
Just two pitchers in modern American League history have started a season 15-0. Johnny Allen was the first, doing so with the 1937 Indians. Dave McNally matched the mark when he went 15-0 for the Orioles in 1969.
Allen came within a game of an unbeaten season. He stood 4-0 in mid-June when he was sidelined by appendicitis, according to a biography from the Society for American Baseball Research. He returned in August and won 11 starts in a 12-start stretch. He entered his final start with a 15-0 record before losing a 1-0 game in Detroit to Jake Wade and the Tigers. He gave up just five hits over eight innings in that game, with a Hank Greenberg RBI single accounting for the game's lone run.
If the Indians were to thwart Scherzer's bid for a 14-0 start 76 years later, it might be some measure of revenge.
McNally's 15-0 starts included 11 no-decisions, stretching his unbeaten streak to the end of July.
Clemens went 14-0 over his first 15 starts in 1986, carrying him through June, before losing to the Blue Jays on July 2 of that year. Ron Guidry is the only other pitcher since 1916 with a 13-0 start, doing so with the 1978 Yankees.
The Major League standard is still a ways off. Rube Marquard had a 19-0 record with the 1912 Giants -- 18 of those wins coming in starts -- before finishing the season 26-11.
Scherzer's 17 starts without a loss to begin the season is tied for the fifth-longest streak among Major League pitchers since 1916, matching him with Guidry from 1978 and Preacher Roe from 1952. A win or a no-decision Monday would tie Scherzer for fourth with Brooks Lawrence, who went 10-0 over his first 18 starts in 1956.
McNally's 15-0 record covered 26 starts, the longest unbeaten streak to begin a season by a Major League starter since 1916.
Infante hoping to return by end of Tribe series
CLEVELAND -- Omar Infante is hoping he can return to the Tigers' lineup by the end of the series against the Indians.
"Another day, two more days," Infante said.
Considering the initial fears when Infante took a slide from Toronto's Colby Rasmus on Wednesday, it would be a welcomed comeback.
Infante was walking around the clubhouse without much limitations on Friday, two days after Rasmus' slide left him with a left shin contusion. Infante had a bandage on the shin, but said it felt fine. His main limitation now is the left ankle, which also took an impact from the slide.
Infante said he has not yet taken batting practice. He tried to hit off a tee but still had some discomfort.
Leyland 'totally relaxed' about All-Star rosters
CLEVELAND -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't say his American League All-Star roster scenarios were set depending on the outcomes of the fan vote for the starting lineup and the player vote for most pitchers and reserves. However, he sounded Friday like a manager whose work picking out All-Stars was done.
"I'm totally relaxed right now," Leyland said, "totally relaxed."
Leyland estimated he spent at least five hours over the course of four days in Toronto working on potential All-Star rosters with his coaches and with Major League Baseball officials. He did some more work on Friday at Progressive Field before rosters are announced live on FOX Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Leyland will not talk about specific potential All-Stars until then. However, he knows the drill once rosters are announced.
"There will be guys not on the All-Star team that deserve to be on the All-Star team," Leyland said. "But there will be no guys on the All-Star team who don't deserve to be."
Terry Francona, who had Leyland on his coaching staff when he managed the AL All-Stars in 2008, trusts his process.
"If anybody's known Jim Leyland for 30 seconds, then you know he's going to spend [time], he's going to treat it with so much integrity," Francona said. "There's so many things you have to take into consideration and so many things that are out of the manager's hands -- that the league handles, voting, injuries -- but like I said, knowing Leyland like I do, it'll be handled with integrity and a lot of passion. He'll do it right."
• Miguel Cabrera returned to the Tigers' lineup Friday after being held out of Thursday's lineup to rest his sore back. Even so, Leyland cautioned that the back remains an issue.
"He's not going to be 100 percent tonight," Leyland said.
• Torii Hunter had Friday's game off after the long stretch of games on artificial turf at Tampa Bay and Toronto and an early-morning arrival into Cleveland. Asked how his legs feel after the games on turf, Hunter said, "I feel like Fred Sanford."