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News » Willis returns to Tigers after stint on DL

Willis returns to Tigers after stint on DL

Willis returns to Tigers after stint on DL
CLEVELAND (AP) - Dontrelle Willis is ready to put the past behind him.

The Detroit left-hander rejoined his teammates Friday for the first time since going on the disabled list because of anxiety disorder in spring training. Willis is scheduled to start for the Tigers in Minnesota on Wednesday.


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"I know I've been terrible, but that was yesterday," Willis, who struggled last season in his first year with the Tigers. "Today is a new day and that's the one thing we've emphasized."

Willis went on the DL on March 29. He made his fourth minor league rehabilitation start Wednesday night, giving up two runs in 7 2-3 innings while walking four and striking out four for Triple-A Toledo. He has compiled a 3.85 ERA over 25 2-3 innings in rehab starts at three different levels.

"I worked hard all the way up the ranks and I told them if I didn't earn to go up each level then don't put me up," he said.

The 27-year-old Willis made only eight appearances with Detroit in 2008. He spent time trying to come back from a right knee injury and dealing with control problems. Willis was 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA and walked 35 batters in 24 innings, and the control issues continued to plague him in spring training.

Willis, who won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2003 with Florida, is confident he can deal with whatever adversity may come his way.

"I feel great," he said. "They talked to me about going out there and trying to have fun. Everybody says they want to have fun, but when you're struggling it's not as fun as when you're playing well, obviously. 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."

Willis threw a bullpen session at Progressive Field Friday afternoon. Upon entering the clubhouse he hugged his teammates and joked with several players.

Manager Jim Leyland thinks it's time to find out what Willis can do in the big leagues.

"I'm happy," Leyland said. "I think he has worked his butt off. I'll be really happy if he wins some games. That's what this is all about."

Willis, along with first baseman Miguel Cabrera, was acquired from the Marlins on Dec. 5, 2007. Willis is 68-56 with a 3.91 ERA in his major league career.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 9, 2009

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