Willis continues to work out in Triple-A
Left-hander throws another simulated game with Toledo
DETROIT -- While the Tigers are at home through the weekend trying to strengthen their postseason hopes, Dontrelle Willis continues to work in Toledo, hoping to get back before the end of the regular season.
Back on the 15-day disabled list with an anxiety disorder for the second time this season, Willis sounds like someone trying to make a positive out of a tough situation.
"When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade," Willis said Monday from Fifth Third Field.
Willis threw a simulated game Wednesday at Fifth Third Field, his latest such effort since going down to Toledo earlier in the month. This one stretched him out to 87 pitches, and drew some encouragement.
Willis also threw a simulated game in Toledo July 10. He's expected to throw a side session Saturday, then another simulated game at some point next week, though that might have to be pushed back with the Mud Hens on the road.
Willis is working with Mud Hens pitching coach A.J. Sager on his mechanics. The focus, Willis said, is on keeping his arm out in front on his delivery, a reinforcement aimed at getting better consistency on his pitches. His arm, he said, feels fine. Aside from that, he's working out under the watch of strength coach Jovon Hubbard.
The other side of Willis' work, is off the field, and he's working on that outside of the Hens.
As for why he's working out in Toledo, even when the Tigers are in Detroit, president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said in an e-mail earlier this month that the recommendation of experts was for him to do his work there. Not only has he been working in Toledo during the Hens' homestand, but he traveled with the team to Buffalo last weekend to keep on working with the team.
Other than that, the Tigers haven't said much about Willis' work, partly out of medical privacy reasons, and probably out of their reluctance to create expectations after the first effort to bring back Willis from his DL stint worked only briefly. Willis said Monday he has no idea what the timetable would be on any possible Minor League rehab stint.
Willis could pitch on a rehab stint for up to 30 days. That would conceivably allow the Tigers to send out Willis on rehab in August, then potentially activate him from the DL when rosters expand in September.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.