DETROIT -- Just because Dontrelle Willis rejoined the Tigers on Wednesday doesn't mean he returned healthy enough to pitch. The look on his face told that much.
Willis is back after being kept home the past couple days with what he characterized as a severe sinus infection, and said he would try to get himself in shape to where he's available out of the bullpen if needed. However, his face was still showing the effects of the illness, and he was still running a fever, though it wasn't nearly the 102-degree temperature he had at one point Monday. He had several bottles of sports drink at his locker.
Willis hasn't been able to eat solid food for a couple days, he said.
"It has to be a sinus thing," Willis said Wednesday morning, "because I don't get sick."
Manager Jim Leyland said he wouldn't consider Willis at this stage even in an emergency. If he was realistically available, Leyland said, they wouldn't have made the roster move to call up Alfredo Figaro from Triple-A Toledo.
Willis said he started feeling sick during the day on Sunday in Cleveland and then felt terrible on the flight home. Fortunately for the Tigers, nobody else on the team has fallen ill so far. Willis had trouble sleeping Sunday night and called the medical staff first thing Monday morning.
An examination from Dr. Michael Workings determined he had neither the health nor the energy level to start Monday night, leading to a bullpen start for left-hander Brad Thomas.
Willis' spot in the rotation comes back up on Saturday, and it's expected he'll make that start. It's vitally important for the Tigers that he make that start; the Tigers already have to fill a starting spot Sunday, since they will not go with Rick Porcello on short rest.
While Tigers rest, Guillen tests hamstring
DETROIT -- Tigers designated hitter Carlos Guillen says his strained left hamstring continues to feel a little stronger each day. So far, though, the progress has been a bit slower than he'd like.
While most of the Tigers were in the clubhouse between games of Wednesday's day-night doubleheader, Guillen was out on the field trying to run, going through agility drills with strength-and-conditioning coach Javair Gillett and athletic trainer Steve Carter. Guillen increased the pace as the workout went on, but so far, he has not been running at full speed. He has not progressed to hitting yet, either.
It's a little frustrating for Guillen, who has been on the disabled list since April 23, after injuring himself while rounding third base at Angel Stadium. But at this point, he's glad to be making progress.
"The important thing is feeling better every day," Guillen said.
Guillen will have to start swinging the bat and taking full batting practice before the Tigers start planning out a Minor League rehab assignment. Take that into account, and Guillen is nowhere close to a return just yet.
The flip side is that the Tigers are nowhere close to needing a decision on Brennan Boesch, the rookie outfielder who has hit up a storm in Guillen's place. Boesch's sixth-inning single in Wednesday's 2-0 Game 1 win extended his RBI total to 15. He has driven in a run in nine of his 14 games so far this season.
Ordonez mastering art of sliding catch
DETROIT -- Some outfielders make diving catches, and others are more comfortable sliding to make a grab. Magglio Ordonez clearly falls into the latter category, but he has made it into a skill.
In many ways, the most impressive part of Ordonez's game-saving catch Monday was the closing speed he showed to catch up to Derek Jeter's slicing fly ball, not the slide to get his glove under the ball. While he has never liked to try to dive for a ball, he has slid for balls several times over the years. He hasn't always gotten them, but he has more sliding catches than a lot of Tigers outfielders since he came to Detroit in 2005.
For him, it's a comfort thing.
"It's just natural," Ordonez said Wednesday morning. "When you dive, it's hard on your body."
That's usually the reason for most players who are reluctant to dive, outfield coach Tom Brookens said. Plus, it's a good option for corner outfielders trying to make catches down the foul lines or in foul territory as they close in on the outfield stands.
In a lot of cases, most players can keep running and make a catch standing up, Brookens said, but he wants players going with what makes them comfortable. As he pointed out, they don't exactly practice diving or sliding for catches.
"Down through the years, [Ordonez is] just more comfortable doing that little slide as opposed to a dive," Brookens said. "That's, more than anything, a personal preference. I don't have a problem with it. The only thing I talk to them [about] is if you don't have to slide, don't do it. But it's an athletic move when the situation arises."
Tigers have options for Sunday's starter
DETROIT -- The good news for the Tigers out of Tuesday's rainout is that their overworked bullpen got an extra day of rest. The bad news is the pothole it put in their rotation for Sunday.
When the rainout pushed Rick Porcello's start back a day from Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon, it essentially ruled out Porcello for Sunday's game against the Red Sox. Manager Jim Leyland does not want to start the 21-year-old on three days' rest, nor will he start Jeremy Bonderman on short rest while he regains his arm strength following two injury-shortened seasons.
That leaves the Tigers with two options. They can have one of their current relievers make the start -- something they've done twice this season when Dontrelle Willis has fallen ill -- or they can call up someone from the Minor Leagues. Coincidentally, Armando Galarraga started on Tuesday for Triple-A Toledo, which would put him on turn to start on Sunday for the Mud Hens.
Leyland initially downplayed the possibility of promoting Galarraga, but then was more open to the chance.
"Is he a possibility? Yes," Leyland said between games on Wednesday. "But a lot of that depends on how it plays out prior to that."
Another possibility, depending on how heavily the bullpen is used the next couple days, is Alfredo Figaro, called up from Toledo on Wednesday morning. He has been in the Mud Hens' rotation all season and was scheduled to start for them on Thursday, but a quick exit by someone in the next few days could require him for long relief.
"There are a lot of ways to go," Leyland said. "There are a lot of scenarios. That's why I can't etch anything in stone, because I don't know how it's going to play out. I mean, obviously, this first game [Wednesday] was a big uplift for our bullpen."
If Figaro is used in relief and can't start, the Tigers could also turn to relievers Eddie Bonine or Brad Thomas, depending on how heavily they're used.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.