Willis takes a hard look at his situation

Dontrelle Willis said the biggest change to come out of his stint on the disabled list is the ability to not worry about perception anymore. That includes not only his pitching, but the perception of his diagnosis with anxiety disorder. He has his thoughts, and others have theirs.

“I’m a guy that shoots from the hip. I was just playing bad,” Willis said. “And that happens. I’m not a doctor. I’m not trying to be a doctor. I’m trying to be a baseball player. I’m not getting into that.

“Even when I went on the DL, I felt fine. You can ask anybody in here. I’m not a depressed guy. Maybe I’m hard on myself, but I wouldn’t have gotten here if I wasn’t. But there’s a fine line to knowing what you can control and what you can’t control. As far as how I feel, I don’t have a condition. My condition is me going out there and playing baseball and having fun. If God doesn’t want me to do it, then I’ll find something else to do.”

Clearly, he wants to get back to baseball instead of talking about his health. Still, he was able to make light of it when he talked about what his family thought.

“The whole situation, to be honest, they were just laughing,” he said. “They were saying, ‘Now the whole world thinks you’re crazy, but we all knew you were.’”

As for his pitching, Willis said he has been able to take his games one pitch at a time. He wasn’t thinking ahead too much, he said, but he was worrying about his past pitches when he couldn’t do anything about them.

Asked if there was a specific pitch or situation when he knew he was better, he cited the home runs he allowed.

“Every time I got a ball hit hard for a home run,” Willis said, “[I was] coming back and focused to continue to work and continue to push forward. You can’t give up.”

That, he said, was the big thing he got out of talking with coaches and doctors and instructors: He has been able to shake off some of the pressure of being in his shoes.

“Everybody says they want to have fun, but when you struggle, it’s not as fun as when you’re playing well, obviously,” Willis said. “Now my mindset is just simplified, going out there and really just thinking about myself and not really caring about anybody else as far as what they think. I’m not going out there and, excuse me, pitching with a gun to my head instead of just going out there and having fun. You make a pitch, and if you don’t [execute] it, go on to the next one.”

Talking with him, there’s very much a sense that he’s at peace with his situation, whichever way his comeback goes. If he’s going out, he’s going out trying to enjoy the game.

“Whatever the outcome may be, I’m going to really go out here and enjoy this game of baseball,” he said. “Only a few of us to get to play until we’re 35, and I’m not Tom Glavine, so I’m going to enjoy this.”

9 Comments

Unbelievable night. Very very well pitched, great defensive plays by Polly, Cabrera, Raburn and Everett, and almost none better than the one by Grandy. Great win Tigers, I am impressed.

Geez, so many of our wins are coming in the close games. JV was great today, the last few innings by the hair on his chin!!
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We will now have the 2nd worst batting average in the AL. Our only run scored manufactured with a walk/steal. JL has to start changing things with pace and form far more important than the side of the plate you stand.

We are now 8-4 in games decided by 2 or less runs.

Ya I agree the run scoring has really hurt us. Today we got a few hits, just in the wrong order.
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I think now we have 1 run 22 or 23 innings?????? That has got to change.

Hitting will come around. Pitching is more important. This is huge for Verlander. Sure, Rayburn should be gone, but guess what? JL is a stubborn guy.

I’m pretty sure Magglio will come around. I don’t think he is injured. Nice to have Clete as a hero, although the article gives Curtis the creidt for his catch.

When we win games, we’re winning them the right way, taking the close ones and doing it with pitching and defense. Tonight’s game will go down in the unforgettable category, and we’ll be seeing those highlights for years to come. Verlander here lately has become what everyone, including himself, thinks he should be.
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The manufactured run in the 8th was beautiful. Grandy walks, steals second, and goes to 3rd on the grounder. Then with the speedy Thomas burning towards first, the Cleveland rookie cracks under the pressure. That’s how to play the game. Speed isn’t all about stealing and taking extra bases, it’s also about putting pressure on the defense. And did anyone notice how Clete hit the bag perfectly on the front edge? That was a small demonstration of what I like about his play.
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I was in total agreement with Leyland sending JV out there to finish his game, win or lose, and man, I thought he’d lost it like most everyone did. But there’s no way you take him out after the 8th inning. No way.
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I am in total disagreement with the lineups that JL is sending out there. We’ve had how many examples of what our gritty and speedy lineup can do, and he still wants to stick with a cement-headed R-L approach? There are guys getting starts who are bringing nothing to the table, and they don’t have the track record to justify it. A comment was made on Ordonez’s baserunning tonight, but I would also include Everett in that indictment. How does he not get beyond third on Polanco’s drive off the wall with two out? This club is hitting terrible, and needs the Andersons, Santiagos, and Cletes out there to grind out runs. And I agree, if Dane can’t bunt with his hitting skills, I have a problem with that.
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That’s my complaint for today, otherwise we’re doing pretty well so far. With RHers on tap now, we’ll see the people most of us want in the lineup. Three straight over Cleveland, 7-5 in the division and 15-13 overall. Staying in the race. Perhaps this year our annual run through interleague play can actually accomplish something.
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I’ll be seeing Verlander’s eyes bug out over Grandy’s catch in my sleep tonight. :-)
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–Rich

One more thing. It was good to see Maggs return to his normal stance tonight, and he looked pretty comfortable up there. I expect he’ll just suddenly start hitting.
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–Rich

WOW! KAWABUNGA DUDE!
What a game… Not only a shutout, but almost could have been a 2 run homer that could have ended it and changed the headllines tomorrow!
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Simply a Great Matchup. J-Vlander vs. C Lee?
Both brought their “A” game attitudes and were dealin!
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Clete Thomas was lost in all the hub-bub, but that catch by Curtis , was just so damn Beautiful.. I didn’t get tired of seeing it over and over in the post game highlights, and the faces of the players , all hi-fiving, and bumping, jumping… that was great.. best scene stealer, was Justin giving Curtis a hug.. Thanks man! You saved my skin tonigt! YEA!~

This was a feel good game.. bet the guys were pumped in the locker room tonight!!!

-jim

Don’t miss hearing the Cleveland feed on Grando’s leap, makes it all the more sweeter that will go down as one of the plays of the year.
“It is goooonnnne!!! No its not………”

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