Friday, April 10, 2009

Awesome night card, pt. 29

As I wait for Dodger James McDonald to make his major league debut as a starter tonight, I can't help but think of another African-American pitcher, who was a sensation five years ago.

I've kind of lost track of Dontrelle Willis since he went over to the American League. I know he had a lousy season for the Tigers last year. That's about it.

But what little I have heard about Willis this year concerns me. He has been placed on the disabled list with an anxiety disorder. That turned my head, because I know a few people who have had experiences with anxiety disorders. And if that's what Willis is going through, then he has my utmost sympathy.

But I've also read that this was just a ploy by the Tigers to get Willis off the field because he can't find the plate anymore. It was either disable him or eat his contract and release him. And then there is Willis, who seems to deny that there's anything amiss mentally.

I know that if you do have an issue with anxiety, being on the pitcher's mound is no place for you. But the whole thing seems fishy and foggy to someone who is not following the Tigers. And it seems like more should have been written about all of this. After all, he was the talk of baseball a few years back and did help the Marlins win a World Series.

So, Tigers fans, what's the deal? Does Willis have a genuine problem, or is his problem only that he's forgotten how to pitch? Or is this something that only those closest to Dontrelle know about?

Because I want the old Dontrelle back. The happy, high-kicking, successful Dontrelle. The kid on that night card up there. How do we get that guy back?


  1. The general belief about Dontrelle here in Detroit is that he just can't find the plate anymore. Most believe that the Tigers putting him on the DL with anxiety issues is not entirely false but probably not entirely true either.

  2. Apparently, he was pitching very well in all of his bullpen sessions and fell apart as soon as he was in a game situation. It would not surprise me if he has some sort of Rick Ankiel/Chuck Knobloch thing going on. However, the Tigers claimed that the results of a BLOOD TEST proved the anxiety disorder, which sounds like a load of malarky to me. So, I think the result is somewhere in between. His problem is somewhat mental and somewhat physical (tweaking with his mechanics hasn't helped at all) and they just needed to find a way to keep him off the roster until he can figure it out. Conventional wisdom says that he's done, but if there is any upside left, they'll just keep him in the minors to work on it. This is truly a sad story for one of baseball's more animated and likable players, but the reality is that he never should have been signed to a contract extension in 2008, coming off a horrible year in Florida and having never thrown a pitch in Detroit.