05/24/2010 4:46 PM ET
Jose Valverde: Just having fun
Tigers closer intense on mound, loose off the field
A big part of me and a big part of my game is having the ability to go out and enjoy myself and enjoy the game. When I'm having fun, I show it.
The funny part is that I'm a pretty different person when I'm not playing.
I don't know why it happens or how it happens, but when I cross the line, my mindset changes. My eyes change, everything changes. I don't know why, and I might now want to know why.
I watch the video afterward, and it sort of looks like a devil out there when I'm pitching. I put on a face like a gorilla. There's nothing else I can do. When I'm not out there, I support my team, my friends and myself.
I've always played baseball with this mindset. Back in the Dominican, going back to Little League, I always played this way; I always played with this attitude.
When I have fun out there, it is really to display my joy and emotion. My intention is not to disrespect the other team. I tell the media all the time that that's just me. I've tried to change, but I just can't and I don't know why.
Position players can have the same mentality. Guys here like Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez and Sammy Sosa always seemed to have fun. But I think I'm really the only closer who really demonstrates his love for his job.
I watch some guys -- guys who have done it as good as anybody else -- and they seem to be so stern. To me, this is just a game to be enjoyed. I always thank for God for the chance I've been given to play in the big leagues.
Converting 11 of 12 save opportunities, ceteran closer Jose Valverde is 1-1 with a 0.48 ERA for the Tigers this season. Signed to a two-year free agent contract over the winter, Valverde has saved as many as 44 games twice in his career.