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 Willis back home, back in rotation

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swiss_tiger
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PostSubject: Willis back home, back in rotation   Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:12 am

Willis back home, back in rotation
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

OAKLAND -- Dontrelle Willis grew up watching games from the stadium here. He'll have a better view in his return.
Willis has pitched in the Bay Area once every season he has been in the Major Leagues, so playing in front of friends and family is not a big deal to him. After nearly two months out of the Tigers rotation, simply starting again is bigger. Still, the fact that he gets to do so in the park that turned him on to baseball is a nice bonus.

Willis grew up just minutes away from McAfee Coliseum in Oakland. While his mother worked to support the family, it was his grandmother, Naomi Guy, who took him to many A's games. It was there that he saw some of the franchise's glory days.

"I grew up going [to games] a lot," Willis said. "The A's are a big reason I picked up a baseball. They have a big influence in the community, and they do a lot of positive things. There's something about those white uniforms. I grew up going to A's games and watching Rickey Henderson. And like I've said before, if it wasn't for Dave Stewart, I would've never picked up a baseball. It's a blessing.

"They've always had a good team. The guys always played hard. It's just everybody has a good time, regardless of drawing 5,000 or 35,000. Everybody has a good time, and everybody's in the game."

Stewart, of course, was the pitching heart of the A's dynasty in the late 1980s and early '90s. He, too, was an Oakland native, and he was a prominent African-American pitcher for his era. He racked up four straight seasons with at least 20 victories from 1987-1990, and he won all four of his postseason starts during the A's championship run in 1989.

But it wasn't just his hometown upbringing, his race or his success. It was his demeanor, too.

"His demeanor was the same," Willis said. "He was always the same guy, whether he was down, 8-0, or up, 8-0. And I kind of emulate my game after that. Regardless of what's going on, I try to be the same guy, be a good teammate. You have to respect a man who comes to work every day and is the same guy regardless of what's going on."

He has tried to keep up a good demeanor and stay a good teammate over the last month while he tried to work his way back to health, then back into the rotation. He took a Minor League rehab assignment, then returned to the Tigers to work out of the bullpen, then saw just one inning of work over a 10-day span.

Finally, with essentially six starters and five spots in the rotation, Leyland worked him back in. It took the piggyback start, a tactic usually used in the lower levels of the Minor Leagues to get guys innings, to work it out.

Leyland will start the game and likely go 4-5 innings if he's effective. Whenever he leaves, Armando Galarraga will replace him and work long relief. It'll be Galarraga's first outing since he took a shutout bid into the ninth inning against the Angels on Wednesday.

It's not the ideal situation, but it was the one way Leyland could get Willis working on a schedule. It was Leyland's decision, he stressed -- not that of the front office -- and the goal is simple.

"I have to try to get Dontrelle going," he said.

The fact that it comes close to home will be a bonus. Willis isn't sentimental about it, but he's going to try to enjoy it.

"It'll be good to see my grandma," Willis said.


Last edited by swiss_tiger on Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:15 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Willis back home, back in rotation   Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:14 am

Jason Beck, you rule!
Quote :
Leyland will start the game and likely go 4-5 innings if he's effective. Whenever he leaves, Armando Galarraga will replace him and work long relief.
C'mon Jimbo! I'm sure you will get more strikes than Dontrelle does. lol!

But seriously: this is a shame. Gala should start! He pitched some gems for us and now has to sit in the bullpen. D-Train should pitch from there.
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PostSubject: Re: Willis back home, back in rotation   Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:54 am

Nod
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PostSubject: Re: Willis back home, back in rotation   Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:45 pm

So if we're losing 6-0 when Willis is yanked we'll put Galarraga in? That's where you want your ace starter to work - in mop-up duty!


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PostSubject: Re: Willis back home, back in rotation   Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:51 pm

catbox_9 wrote:
So if we're losing 6-0 when Willis is yanked we'll put Galarraga in? That's where you want your ace starter to work - in mop-up duty!
Exactly! Amen! True!
That's what i was thinking! Just CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY
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PostSubject: Re: Willis back home, back in rotation   Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:47 pm

J. Leyland Crazy!

Gala should start! Let D-railed be his cleanup man! If you are paying Dontrelle too much, who's fault is that... DD?


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PostSubject: Re: Willis back home, back in rotation   Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:47 pm

applaud clap bow
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PostSubject: Re: Willis back home, back in rotation   Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:21 pm

Oh this is ridiculous Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Willis back home, back in rotation   Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:54 pm

GO WILLIS
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PostSubject: Re: Willis back home, back in rotation   Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:37 pm

Well, at least we have a replacement for Kenny, if he does not play next year!

Yea :rogers: Yea A. Galarraga boo J. Leyland


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PostSubject: Re: Willis back home, back in rotation   Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:16 pm

06/04/2008 5:03 PM ET
Leyland unsure how to handle Willis
Detroit's rotation a question for manager with lefty back
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

OAKLAND -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland is emphasizing the positive on Dontrelle Willis' first Tigers start in nearly two months, but he has positively no decision on how he'll work out Detroit's rotation with him going forward.

Leyland will talk with team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski back in Detroit, and they'll try to work out some roster issues ranging from the rotation to the numerous players on track to return from the disabled list in the coming weeks. All that Leyland can say for now is that they won't use another piggyback start when the spot in the rotation comes back around next week.

"I won't be doing that again," Leyland said, "but it was OK. I'm glad we did it. It served the purpose to get Dontrelle back out there. It's not something you like doing, but it's something we felt like we had to do."

Willis tossed four scoreless innings of two-hit ball Tuesday. He walked five A's batters, all within an eight-batter span of the third and fourth innings after showing strong command for the first 2 1/3 innings.

Those were five walks in a 22-walk game, a total Leyland called a "disgrace" for a Major League game. Yet the fact that Willis stranded all five of the runners he walked made an impression on his manager.

"Five walks is too many, obviously," Leyland said, "but I look at the bright side. I look at what happened when he got in trouble. He geared it up a little bit. I think that's a step in the right direction. Now this guy isn't anywhere near home free, but it's a step in the right direction.

"I think you try to continue to work on the positive and not the negative. I'm just saying I thought there some signs of good hope there. I don't know how it's going to play out, but there were some signs."

Those signs reinforced Leyland's belief that Willis' command issues are mental rather than physical. His arm, Leyland said, appears to be fine.

That spot in the rotation, whether it belongs to Willis or Armando Galarraga, comes back around Monday against the Indians.

At least one more roster decision will likely be made on Thursday. The Tigers are expected to recall Denny Bautista from his rehab assignment after back-to-back solid innings Monday and Tuesday for Triple-A Toledo. Leyland has an idea how he'll shape his bullpen to make room, but he wanted to wait to discuss it with Dombrowski.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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