Does Willis have a torn ACL?

Dontrelle Willis was brought up from Lakeland to have his knee examined yet again. Willis has of course been “not right” all year long. He struggled with his control in the spring and it never got better before or after he slipped on the mound in Chicago culminating in a demotion to Class A Lakeland. Is it possible that Willis did more than hyperextend the knee and perhaps damaged the ACL?

Eddie Bajek of Detroit Tigers Thoughts believes this to be the case and he provides a pretty interesting theory. I’ve known Eddie online for several years and the guy isn’t a dummy. At the same time he’s a mechanical engineer and not an orthopod, nor does he have access to any test results. But the chronology and events around this, as well as some photographic evidence from Dontrelle’s Lakeland appearance don’t add up.

Willis experienced pain during his rehab assignment. He hopped around in each of his appearances and even solicited a visit from trainer Kevin Rand during his Oakland start. And yet the knee was deemed fine. If the knee is the source of his control problems in some respects it is reassuring that said problems could be correctable. But if the above is true that is pretty damning of the staff that it got this far.


  1. Paul

    July 8, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Leave the medical work to someone else, Eddie.

  2. Mike R

    July 8, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Wouldn’t be surprised. This is the same club that sat Jeremy Bonderman for a start when he was complaining of elbow pain only to neglect getting him an MRI and ran him back out there again to get lit up and then FINALLY get him into an MRI machine. So, anything’s possible, medically speaking, with this organization.

  3. greg

    July 8, 2008 at 5:06 am

    Bring on the medical work Eddie, bravo. I posted back on May 18th that his knee was bothering him after watching his rehab appearance right before his calllup.

  4. Tbone

    July 8, 2008 at 7:41 am

    I find it very difficult to believe that the Tigers training and medical staff wouild have been unable to diagnose an ACL problem, especially on a guy that they are spending millions on. And if there is an issue, how are we supposed to know when it happened?

  5. Eddie

    July 8, 2008 at 9:17 am

    I found that very hard to believe as well, but there have been several curious things that have happened over the past year plus. Jordan Tata’s neglected shoulder, Fernando Rodney’s rushed shoulder last year, Jeremy Bonderman’s elbow last year, Gary Sheffield’s body, Andrew Miller returning from his hamstring and being unable to throw a strike, Joel Zumaya returning from his finger injury before he was 100%, Jair Jurrjens being pronounced out for the year only to return in a couple of weeks, Vance Wilson’s botched rehab, Willis, and finally Macay McBride’s elbow…

    I appreciate any feedback, but stuff like “let the medical experts handle it” won’t fly when they have shown that they haven’t been able to properly do that since the beginning of last season.

  6. Mark in Chicago

    July 8, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Nice work using the mosaic theory, Eddie. I’m no more of a doctor than you are, but I think a lot of the injury history with this team is on the players. Bonderman didn’t say a word about his elbow last year or the effets from the loss of circulation this year. There’s frankly no way for the Tigers medical staff to pick those things up unless he says something. Similar story for Sheffield and his shoulder.

    The medical experts don’t escape the scrutiny either, but they aren’t the ones hurting, so I can’t pin the blame exclusively on them.

  7. Chris in Dallas

    July 8, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Professional sports teams are notorious for not divulging injury info, and athletes are notorious for playing through pain. I dont’ really think we as fans know enough to play the blame game on the Tigers injury woes. Remember in ’06 when Polanco said he’d be out for the rest of the season when he separated his shoulder in Boston? He came back too. Of course he’s apparently a drama queen, but still. In any case, injuries are a part of sports. It just sucks when they happen to your favorite team and all.

  8. Anson

    July 8, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Maybe they should check for the pulled oblique while they are checking out his knee. Chances are he probably managed to pull that too.

  9. scotsw

    July 8, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I agree that the Tigers need to be a little more thorough in their diagnoses and rehab. Seems like they’ve been snake-bit on the injury front for a while now, and end up with a lot of “walking wounded” as well.

  10. Sean C. in Illinois

    July 8, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Oops, wrong thread.

  11. Neal

    July 8, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Willis was having control problems before his knee issues, so if anything, the knee was merely preventing him from correcting his already existing problems.
    If his weight, as was suggested by some, was contributing to his control problems, then this could be very problemmatic. Recovery could take a year, and he would need to concentrate on conditioning, which might be painful. On the bright side, it might force him to do more low impact cardio.

  12. greg

    July 8, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Yeah, ‘let the experts handle it’ even regardless of track record, even with a PERFECT track record, in ANY field, that doesn’t fly with me either…….almost smacks of hero worship in some respects. I see no reason to place them up on a pedestal.