In April, before Jose Valverde returned, Joaquin Benoit more or less became the Detroit Tigers’ closer when he was available.

His assumption of the role didn’t stand out, because the Tigers seldom had save opportunities in those few weeks that Valverde was getting ready in the minors.

Today, with Valverde having plummeted out of the full-time closer’s role, manager Jim Leyland said that Benoit has returned to much the same status he had in mid-April.

“I’m going to try to close with Benoit when healthy and available,” Leyland said. “So that means Benoit would be the closer if he’s able to pitch, hasn’t pitched too much, hasn’t been overused, and we have a chance to win the game.

“I’m not naming a full-time closer, because I’m not sure who will be available or who would need a day off if they pitched two or possibly three days (in a row).”

When Valverde rejoined the Tigers this year, Benoit moved back into the eighth-inning set-up role he has held in his three seasons with the club.

On Sunday in Minnesota, it became evident that Valverde was no longer the full-time closer when Benoit got the final four outs for a save against the Twins.

Leyland said today he doubted that Benoit would have any more multi-inning saves. So when he’s available, look for Benoit to enter at the beginning of the ninth, the way closers usually do.

Asked whether Valverde remains in the closing mix, Leyland said, “Tonight, no.”

Even when he has been at his best, Valverde — like some other closers — has tended to struggle when not in a save situation. Most of his Tigers losses have come when he has entered tied games. It’s as if he needs the adrenaline of a save opportunity.