TigsTown Roundtable: D-Train Back on Track?

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: Should the early positive reports on Dontrelle Willis be taken with excitement or a grain of salt?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Spring training in baseball is forever a time of the year when everything is going right with the team. Injured players look healthy, new acquisitions look impressive, young up and comers look promising . . . and in this case, Dontrelle Willis is showing signs that he may be finally past his problems that have plagued him and his career the past three seasons. But as is the case with most of those, it's important to take all of that spring training talk with a grain of salt. Hitters will often times look good when they're in batting practice, while pitchers will often look good when there's no one in the batter's box. I think almost all Tigers fans hope that Willis can somehow turn it around and give the Tigers a productive 2010 campaign. But it's far, far too early to get excited about a couple seemingly impressive outings. If Willis pitches effectively against MLB competition over the next month, then maybe we can talk. But until he steps in against real opposition, keeps the ball in and around the strike zone, and gets batters out, it's important to take it slow for now.

Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
I might be accused of being a pessimist for saying this, but I don't see how anyone could do anything but take these results with anything but a massive (and I mean massive) grain of salt. The saga that has been Dontrelle Willis over the last few years has earned that grain of salt. I'm glad Dontrelle is in shape. I'm glad Dontrelle feels good. I'm glad Dontrelle is still smiling and having fun on the field. All of those things make me happy, and I hope he truly is feeling better about his place in life and his future in the game. That said, I still don't think a couple of bullpen sessions in late February, without hitters, is cause for celebration. Lots of pitchers can throw strikes without a hitter in the box, or fans in the stands, and I need to see Dontrelle do that before I'm a believer. Willis has a long road back to pitching effectively, and while you like to see positive signs, I'm not holding my breath until he's done it a few times in game action. I enjoy breathing too much.

Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I would take it with a grain of salt. Until Dontrelle Willis starts throwing strikes consistently, and gets major-league hitters out on a consistent basis, I will remain skeptical that he can find his old form when he won 58 games in his first four years with the Marlins. Now if Willis does show signs of turning things around in spring training, then the Tigers may have a decision to make considering they have a plethora of guys competing for the final two spots in the rotation, so it will be interesting to see how everything unfolds in Lakeland.

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