Willis lifted after one-plus innings

He had two unearned runs (but no walks) in a 30-pitch third inning before a single, walk and hit-by-pitch led to his removal in the fourth. He threw 43 pitches, 25 strikes, compared with the usual 30-pitch mark in the first outing for pitchers being stretched out as a starter. Kevin Millar had a hard-hit liner to left-center off a hanging breaking ball before Rod Barajas did a solid job of going the other way with a ball that was supposed to break down and in but flattened over the plate.

UPDATE @ 4:20pm: The focus from Willis and the Tigers was on repeating his delivery. He didn’t fall into that ball-four, ball-eight, ball-12 mode when he started giving up damage. They’re looking at this as a building block.

“I knew what I wanted to do today and I felt it,” Willis said. “I just didn’t get it done.”

Or as Willis said later, “I’m happy with everything but the line.”

Leyland said that Willis had good sync in his first inning of work, but not as good in his second.

As for the pitch count, pitching coach Rick Knapp said he had an informal 45-pitch limit in mind for Willis when he went out for that second inning. Knapp paid a visit two batters into the fourth to let Willis know that would be his final hitter and to focus on getting in two good fastballs low. He did that, but then hit Wayne Lydon with his 0-2 pitch.

11 Comments

zach miner just got a step closer to being the fifth starter.

That’s disappointing to say the least. All the euphoria over the starting rotation can evaporate pretty quick if we lose the services (for whatever reason) of 40% of the rotation like last year. Willis gets bonbed loses command and Bonderman has physical issues. Deja Vu?

I hope not, Dan.
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matt

The bats have been pretty quiet so far, which I also hope is not a sign of things to come. It sounds like Inge’s hard work may be paying off, though. Hopefully he can keep that up.
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matt

Really disappointing start for Willis. Apperently all the things that we have been hearing coming out of camp about him and frankly a few of the other pitchers we have seen so far, has been a bunch of bunk???? Almost no one who has been considered a serious contender to be in the big leagues has really had perfect outings. And someone said earlier that no one is really hitting except for Inge of all people.

Hey guys, early days. At least he is throwing strikes, or is it called hits. Poor Iorg – 3 errors in half a game.
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At least the Sox are on their way to three in a row.

Great three errors by Lorg. WOW and this is the guy they have been bragging about. Terrific day at the park. Rodney is having a stellar outing as well. Tiger pitching seems to be in the same situation as to where it left off. I know that it is only spring training but come on tons of walks, hit batters and extra base hits, not to mention errors.

Oh, I’m not panicking, Dave, it just gives me something to worry about!
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Looks like Rodney had a rough outing, as well.
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matt

Can we hope that it is just the first outing for all these pitchers and maybe better days are ahead?

Let’s not scuttle the ship yet. It’s February 27th of possibly the longest spring training schedule in history. Long way to go before any real conclusions can be drawn.
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Willis actually looked pretty good to me in his first inning. Laird had to lunge for a couple of wide ones but he was able to corral both. To me, it was more of a further demonstration of the importance of defense. After Iorg’s one-out error, Dontrelle found himself in a situation not of his own making. He didn’t need that so quickly. What I noticed most was his delivery. It looked nothing like the herky jerky windup of last year. Pretty smooth, actually. Unfortunately, he ended up in the stretch after the error, but he minimized the damage very well. I’ll qualify all this by saying I didn’t see his second inning. I assumed he’d reached his limit and I had gone down for drinks.
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Re Cale Iorg, I keep looking for the qualities that makes Tigers management so high on him. I must admit I haven’t seen them yet. To be fair to him, he must have been nervous as an elephant in a roomful of mice, getting the start and all. The poor guy actually did a pretty good Renteria impression, bobbling a grounder then compounding it with a needless throw.
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I was down the thirdbase line, and I don’t recall Inge holding his bat in a forward position before. Is that new?
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Nobody’s mentioned Sheffield. Gary took his walk, as usual, then roped a hard single to left. Even the DP ball he hit was a hard one. Just needed to find a hole there. He looked pretty healthy to me.
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The pitchers in general are all making their first appearances in game competition. I never expect much from Rodney so that didn’t bother me. By the second half of the game, they’re facing minor leaguers anyway so you can’t get too excited by the results.
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It was a beautiful warm and cloudless day. I was having trouble picking up the ball off the bat and finally someone lifted a pop over into our section of the stands. I never saw it, was trying to find it up there, then noticed that the folks behind me were looking behind them, so I assumed that’s where the ball was going. It came down square on the head of one of the guys looking behind him. Turns out none of us could see it. Someone immediately called out “Get some help, we’ve got blood.” The usher arrived and later a medic but the man appeared relatively unhurt. The strange part was, we never were able to find the ball.
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–Rich

Always good to get the skinny from someone right there Rich. You have quelled our doubts at least for now:-).
So you were at the Jays park in Dunedin today? I watched a game there a couple of years ago with my daughters. The Jays were playing the Red Sox. I have to say those Red Sox fans were a vociferous fun loving bunch….and a bit cocky. That little stadium is not nearly as nice as Joker Marchant, so we get bragging rights there. It was located in a nice residential area, though difficult to get in and out of as I recall.
Rich, I enjoyed your description of the “phantom”pop foul incident….the stuff of baseball. Good to hear the guy was ok. That is not a good feeling, losing a ball in the sun but you have an idea it’s coming down somewhere near you. At that point you just got to “cover”.

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