6/14/2013 8:47 P.M. ET
Hunter the latest former Twin to make return
By Kelly Erickson / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- When Torii Hunter stepped up to the plate on Friday, he became the third former center fielder the Twins faced in consecutive series.
Hunter followed Denard Span, who went 4-for-9 with a triple and RBI for the Nationals, and Ben Revere, who was 8-for-14 with a triple and RBI for Philadelphia.
While Hunter joked that the trend doesn't count for him, now that he's in right field, he did say when it comes to game-time, he'll do what he can to help the Tigers win.
"I enjoy beating any team," Hunter said. "The Twins, I love them no matter what. But once I step between the lines, I'm here to win. If we lose, we lost -- but trust me in a loss, I'm trying to beat you. They're another team right now. I still love them … you'll see me smiling, but I'm trying to beat [them]. I'll run you over, I'll catch you, I'll take the second baseman out -- whatever I have to do to win."
Hunter, who last played for the Twins in 2007, went 4-for-14 with a double and an RBI the last time he played at Target Field in the season-opening series in April.
"He's always taken care of himself really well and worked really hard," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He looks as young as ever and moves around. I know he doesn't have the same speed he once had, or the arm strength, but he still really knows to play the game. He's a positive influence over there and I know that from talking to [Tigers manager] Jim [Leyland]."
Leyland sticking with Valverde as closer
MINNEAPOLIS -- After his third blown save of the season on Wednesday in Kansas City, questions have cropped up about Jose Valverde's role as the Tigers' closer.
While media and fans alike have suggested several different answers, Tigers manager Jim Leyland firmly stated he will stick with Valverde for those final outs.
"We're going to do the best we can," Leyland said. "We're going to use Jose Valverde until we decide Jose Valverde can or can't do it, or we've got somebody else better. That's what we're doing.
"Basically what it boils down to is, everybody can tell me I'm bald, but no one can tell me how to grow hair."
Leyland also noted that Valverde is working on his splitter -- the pitch that has been getting him into some tough situations -- and has been pushing it lately, rather than throwing the pitch.
"He hasn't been consistent on throwing it the way you're supposed to throw it," Leyland said. "He'll get underneath it and is kind of pushing it."
Valverde has made 18 appearances this season entering play Friday against the Twins, going 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA and nine saves. He's given up 13 hits and eight earned runs in 17 1/3 innings of work.
Jackson activated from DL, Garcia sent to Triple-A
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Tigers activated center fielder Austin Jackson from the disabled list on Friday and optioned Avisail Garcia to Triple-A Toledo. Jackson started Friday and batted leadoff.
Jackson, who was sidelined due to a pulled left hamstring, hadn't seen action for the Tigers since May 11. Jackson played three games with Toledo as part of his rehab assignment, going 3-for-13 with an RBI, a walk and five strikeouts.
"He's back. He's playing. That's good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
In Jackson's absence, Garcia hit .288 and was on an eight-game hitting streak. Filling in for 24 games, Garcia had 19 hits in 66 plate appearances with 10 RBIs and four walks.
"He did well enough to stay up here, it's just that we don't have room for him right now unless you want to not play [Andy] Dirks, not play [Torii] Hunter or not play Jackson or somebody," Leyland said. "We're not going to sit him out there and let him sit there and wait for a left-hander, so that's just a common sense thing.
"I could keep him up here and sit him on the bench. That doesn't make much sense. This is a kid that needs to play. This is a kid that's got a high ceiling."
Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.