Willis dealing with cracked fingernail
Tigers lefty says issue won't cost him any starts
ANAHEIM -- Dontrelle Willis showed Tuesday the cracked fingernail he has been battling on his left middle finger for the past couple starts, but he stated his resolve that it isn't going to cost him any starts.
"It's been something that would come and go since I made it to the big leagues, but this is the worst it's ever been for me," Willis said. "But you have to grind it out and find a way to stay on the mound for your team."
It's been a nagging injury, he said, since his first start of the season. He cracked it open during his first start of the year at Kansas City, and he has been performing maintenance on it ever since. He took Tuesday off of throwing a baseball to allow it to heal a little bit, but simply throwing at all eventually brings it back.
In the case of Monday's start, it became an issue an inning or two into the game. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said they were working on controlling the pain between innings. Manager Jim Leyland said he was aware of it, but he wasn't going to make a move unless Willis told him he couldn't pitch.
That isn't going to happen unless it gets a lot worse. If anything, Willis joked, his command got better after it began to tear open again.
"You just do the best you can," Willis said. "I just don't want my nail ripping totally off. It's not one of those things where you can just buy another nail."
Ordonez surprised by his impressive catch
ANAHEIM -- Magglio Ordonez knows how hard he worked to improve his outfield defense, both in the offseason and in Spring Training. He admits, though, that he has no idea how he ended up making a highlight catch Monday night.
It might well have saved Dontrelle Willis' outing. The Angels' Brandon Wood hit a drive deep to right field with runners on first and second and two outs in the fifth. Ordonez retreated hard and turned more than once before making an over-the-shoulder catch.
"He hit that ball pretty good," Ordonez said. "At the last second, I [looked over my shoulder]. I didn't know I caught the ball, because I'm running."
Not until he looked in his glove did he realize what he had just found. He did a imitation of himself looking around, then looking into his glove in shock.
"I don't know how I caught that ball, but I did," Ordonez said. "I saw it didn't bounce at all."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said again Tuesday that he believes this is the best he has seen Ordonez running and fielding since he joined the glove. Ordonez said this might be the best he has felt defensively in his 14-year career.
Avila makes cut as barber
ANAHEIM -- Alex Avila isn't a barber by trade or by hobby. In fact, until Monday, he hadn't cut anyone's hair other than his own, which is basically just a buzzcut.
Then Johnny Damon came to him with a request.
"We were talking about doing it," Avila said Tuesday of Damon's newly carved Mohawk. "We were going to wait until my hair gets a little longer and then do my hair. We were talking about me getting one and he was going to do one, and I was like, 'Yeah, sure, I'll cut it for you,' just kind of joking around.
"And then [Monday] he was like, 'Yeah, let's cut my hair.' I'm like, 'OK.' How am I going to say no to Johnny Damon?"
Avila had a Mohawk in college, he said. He did it when he was in a slump during his junior season at the University of Alabama, and it turned out well. Doing it for someone else, however, was a new challenge.
"It wasn't too difficult. Just a Mohawk," he said. "But honestly, it was on the fly. I really had no experience at it."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.