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News » Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2009-05-13

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2009-05-13

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2009-05-13
If Wednesday night's start against Minnesota isn't the biggest of left-hander Dontrelle Willis' career, it has to be in the top 10.

Willis makes his return to the Detroit rotation in Minnesota, his first appearance for the Tigers since coming off the disabled list, where he was placed at the end of spring training due to an anxiety disorder.

No matter how you slice and dice it, the start could have a huge bearing on Willis' future.

Detroit obtained him from Florida two winters ago and gave him a three-year, $29 million extension before he'd even thrown a regular-season pitch for the club. Willis started poorly for the Tigers -- then got worse.

He'll take the mound Wednesday still looking for his first victory in a Detroit uniform.

Willis has pitched well since the anxiety disorder was discerned and, at least in his rehab starts, seems to have conquered his control problems.

A decent showing is critical for Willis. It would indicate he can be a key part of the season, and perhaps others to come.

A poor showing would bring into question his major league future. Detroit can't afford to give starts to a pitcher who hasn't shown the team much in the past and who might need more babying to be a contributor.

The Tigers see a weakened AL Central and feel they can be a part of the chase for first place. A faltering starter can't be a part of that, not with Jeremy Bonderman on the verge of showing whether he can be a help or not. And not with viable candidates to start both in the bullpen (Zach Miner) and in the minors.

Would Detroit be willing to eat the remainder of Willis' chunky contract if he cannot deliver?

It's a question the club hopes it does not have to answer.

TWINS 6, TIGERS 2: Minnesota hit two home runs and so did Detroit. The Twins got four runs from theirs, however, to just two for the Tigers. RHP Armando Galarraga was roughed up for a pair of two-run home runs Tuesday night, while Detroit got solo shots from DH Jeff Larish in the sixth and SS Ramon Santiago in the seventh. The Tigers left eight men on base in the game.

"We need our big guys to knock in runs," manager Jim Leyland said. "We need Magglio (Ordonez) to hit third."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 13, 2009

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