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Tigers-Twins Preview 2009-05-13

Tigers-Twins Preview 2009-05-13
Dontrelle Willis' first season with the Detroit Tigers was extremely forgettable, but he is trying to put a lot more than a disappointing record behind him as he makes his first start of 2009.

After being sidelined with an anxiety disorder, Willis takes the mound for the Tigers on Wednesday when they continue a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome.

Willis went 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance in 2008, his first season with Detroit (17-14) after being signed to a $29 million, three-year deal in December 2007. His first year in the AL was marred by a stint on the disabled list because of a knee injury suffered during his second start, and it was shortened further after he was sent to the minors after struggling with his command.

Looking to put 2008 behind him, Willis received further bad news when he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder during spring training and then placed on the 15-day disabled list. Now he's ready to show he's regained the form that made him the 2003 NL rookie of the year and runner-up to the 2005 NL Cy Young Award.

"I feel great," he said. "They talked to me about going out there and trying to have fun. ... Now my mind-set is simplified to go out there and think about myself and not really caring about anybody else as far as what they think."

The 27-year-old left-hander made four rehab starts in preparing for this outing, compiling a 3.85 ERA over 25 2-3 innings at three different levels.

Willis made a one-inning relief appearance against the Twins (16-17) last season.

"He's been through a lot. He's going to come back now so we're certainly happy about that, and that's something that's in your heart as a human being," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "The other side of the coin is he needs to win games for us and that's what he'll be here for. He'll be expected to pitch well and help us win games like everybody else."

Willis will look to help Detroit bounce back after having its three-game winning streak snapped in a 6-2 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday. Joe Crede and Joe Mauer each hit a two-run home run off Tigers starter Armando Galarraga to give the Twins a 4-0 lead after three innings. Mauer's home run was his third in four games and fourth this season after the All-Star catcher missed Minnesota's first 22 games while recovering from offseason kidney surgery. Mauer is 18 for 36 since returning, driving in 12 runs.

"It felt good," Mauer said. "I'm seeing the ball pretty good and put a couple good swings on it."

The Twins hand the ball to Glen Perkins (1-2, 3.73 ERA), who after allowing three runs in his first three outings this season, has a 6.88 ERA in going winless his last three starts.

Perkins pitched six innings against Baltimore on Thursday, allowing four runs and five hits in a 5-4 loss. The left-hander, who gave up two home runs in the first three innings, did not factor in the decision.

Perkins is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in four starts against the Tigers. He's also made three relief appearances against them. Miguel Cabrera, who was 0 for 4 on Tuesday, has four hits in 10 at-bats against Perkins.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 13, 2009

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