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Zumaya, Willis to DL

The Tigers announced three more roster moves today. Not surprisingly Joel Zumaya will start the season on the DL as he tries to overcome his shoulder maladies. A little more surprising is that Dontrelle Willis will be joining him. The official reason is “anxiety disorder.”

Clearly the team thinks that Dontrelle’s problem is mental which presumably means they still believe in his pitching ability. He worked with a performance coach during his Lakeland sabbatical last season, but the problems seem to be recurring. The reports are glowing when he pitches in camp or minor league games, but the results aren’t appearing in regular exhibition events.

This seemingly means that Willis can stay on the DL indefinitely. The trick is that there are limits to rehab assignments. So while he can be on the DL to work through these issues, he has limited time to demonstrate a recovery.

This is a very sad story for Willis and I wish him the best.

The third and least notable move is Kyle Bloom was returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates. That leaves 35 players in camp.

Posted by on March 29, 2009.

Tags: , ,

Categories: 2009 Season, Injuries, Roster Management, Spring Training

26 Responses

  1. This is getting more and more Steve Blass and Rick Ankiel-ish by the moment. Too bad Dontrelle can’t play the outfield!

    by Greg Eno on Mar 29, 2009 at 11:13 am

  2. Surprised Bloom hung around that long…

    by Chris Y. on Mar 29, 2009 at 11:30 am

  3. Anxiety disorder. I’ll bet there are a ton of people on this site who can comment on this through their own experience or someone they know, including myself. Definitely can be disabling.

    by ron on Mar 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm

  4. Willis said the diagnosis came after follow-up blood tests showed something of concern. Doctors told him that the condition is treatable and that they’ll start him on a regimen.
    “This is not depression,” Willis said. “This is something totally different. This is something where they saw something in my blood that they didn’t like. “I’m not crazy, though my teammates might think that I’m crazy.”

    by Mr. X on Mar 29, 2009 at 1:07 pm

  5. Sorry, but this rings of BS to me. Since when can you do a blood test and find anxiety? Unless they found that he was dependent on some drug that he started using because of his anxiety (alcohol, benzodiazepene).

    They’ll probably put him on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (antidepressants). I don’t know how often drugs help though.

    by Adam on Mar 29, 2009 at 1:46 pm

  6. Drugs are bad mkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkaaaaaaaaay

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-AfOhyn_S4

    by David on Mar 29, 2009 at 3:30 pm

  7. Adam, blood tests for neurotransmitter-related enzyme levels (which often correlate to anxiety disorders) have been around for a while. I don’t know how accurate they are or how widely they’re used, but it’s not necessarily BS.

    by Sam on Mar 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm

  8. Does anybody know whether you are allowed to play sports on aderol, or would that be considered a performance enhancing drug? My buddy gave me one for our all nighter poker session and I have never been more focused and on my game. They are commonly used for anxiety right?

    by Ken in Las Vegas on Mar 29, 2009 at 4:14 pm

  9. In my case, drugs (Zoloft) saved the day. The doc explained that the neurons are not “matching” and connecting improperly. The synapes spaces are dependent upon the firing of the neurons to be exact. Depression/anxiety can be controlled to some extent by the Zoloft which is a low dose anti-anxity med. In other words, if the spark plug gap is too wide, the car will run rough. Dontrelle saying this is not depression sounds like denial. If it is something else, I hope the doctor was very specific and honest with him. Is the test result causing the anxiety? Adam is correct about other drugs which can increase anxiety in the long run, such as alcohol in my case.

    by ron on Mar 29, 2009 at 4:50 pm

  10. Well, why they gave him the blood tests is a mystery that we’ll probably never know. His insistence that he’s not depressed makes me think he might be in denial and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Even though he jokes all the time doesn’t mean he can’t be depressed or distressed. I feel bad for him and for the Tigers.

    by Kathy on Mar 29, 2009 at 6:09 pm

  11. I have said all along that Willis is too heavy and the added weight since 2005 has slowly/adversely affected his delivery.

    What he needs are diet pills — enough to lose around 30 more pounds. Those five pounds Dontrelle lost over the winter was nowhere-near enough.

    Drop 30 and watch his command come back.

    by Damus Fucious on Mar 29, 2009 at 6:28 pm

  12. Willis has been a trainwreck for the Tigers since Day 1. This is shaping into one long saeason…

    by Tbone on Mar 29, 2009 at 8:45 pm

  13. Kathy inspired me to check into this a little further. There is a test that measures the level of AChe enzyme in the blood serum using a SPECTRAFlour machine (sounds pretty complex to me). If this measurement is elevated and remains elevated for some time, you are more susceptible to an anxiety disorder. Sam was on top of this. Women are more susceptible as a group and African Americans in general are more likely than others to suffer. 13.3% of the population in this country is affected.

    by ron on Mar 29, 2009 at 9:50 pm

  14. One more thing. I know genetics plays a major role.

    by ron on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm

  15. Sure does, ron. Runs in my family. I’m not sure what kind of anxiety they have diagnosed him with….whether it’s just generalized anxiety or if he’s actually experiencing anxiety attacks. I recall very clearly Dontrelle making a remark when he got the trade to Detroit. He said “sure hope I don’t screw things up for ‘em” .

    by Kathy on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:40 pm

  16. You can point to this

    “The reports are glowing when he pitches in camp or minor league games, but the results aren’t appearing in regular exhibition events.” – Billfer

    and your last quote Kathy about mucking things up for us.

    If both are the case, then that would explain a lot. It would essentially mean his stuff is still there, but his ability to calm himself down isn’t (AT TIMES). It is almost funny looking at his stats with the Marlins. Is ROY then is so-so, then comes in 2nd in the Cy Young balloting then his ERA again drops by over a run. Also see his post season/all star pitching well although a small sample size – was horrible.

    It COULD and DOES make a lot of sense that he has a greater trouble than most when he feels like he’s on a big stage and many many people are counting on him. It really isn’t at all SAD for Willis, Billfer. IF THIS IS THE CASE. It should be the beginning of the best times. He gets some help from a psych, sorts things out and either takes med OR works with the doc OR (the most likely) does both.

    THIS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stage_fright should help somewhat.

    Plus he was handed his first big contract before he even threw a pitch here.For example you watch some guys when they go from small market teams to the Yanks – they can’t handle it and wasn’t what they were before.

    Let him find out what it is, talk to a doc a lot. Get all his issues sorted out, start taking something if something is mucked up chemically wise. Hopefully he can improve a lot within a short period of time (ie 6months) and help us. If not oh well. I still think if he makes an active effort to solve his problems he will and will be pitching in the majors again, whether that is 6 months or 6 years I do not know.

    by David on Mar 29, 2009 at 11:47 pm

  17. Zach Greinke of the Royals had a type of anxiety disorder and with proper medication, his performance improved dramatically. Checking different websites, this is not an uncommon problem in sports in general, just never spoken about.

    by ron on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:16 am

  18. I agree with all of this. I just don’t get the “blood test = anxiety” connection. Maybe he was just nervous about needles (that was a joke).

    by Adam on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:53 am

  19. Well, I’ve been saying that the Tigers were going to have to find a way to DL Willis, and this makes plenty of sense to me. I won’t pretend to have a diagnosis of what ails Willis, except it’s been clear to me even in the glimpses we’ve gotten of him this spring that “stuff” isn’t the problem. He can go out there and lay half a dozen crisp pitches over the plate, and every now and then he shoots the moon. He looked like a hyperactive cat last time out, way over-adrenalized, and just not in command of his own energy. I love the guy, and want to see him succeed. Now, it sounds like they’ve pinpointed his issue.

    Dontrelle’s right: He’s not crazy. Not even close. But you can’t let the jitters take over when it’s crunch time. I’m optimistic that with some medicine and some counseling, they can get him back “in the zone.”

    As for the rest of the Tigers’ pitching mess, I’ve been hearing good things about this Jair Jurrjens fella in Atlanta…

    I like the idea of starting Porcello in Bonderman’s spot to get his feet wet.

    by scotsw on Mar 30, 2009 at 8:39 am

  20. Maybe the psychiatric lobby in the medical arena is too influential. “Let me take your blood, prescribe something and see you in 6 months” as opposed to “Time’s up, see you next week.” I personally know a lady who has been in therapy for 50 years here in N.Y.C. ( which is not unusual here) and when her therapist goes on vacation, all her patients meet as a group one hour a week and mail her their regular fee.

    by ron on Mar 30, 2009 at 9:26 am

  21. [...] Detroit Tigers Weblog: This seemingly means that Willis can stay on the DL indefinitely. The trick is that there are limits to rehab assignments. So while he can be on the DL to work through these issues, he has limited time to demonstrate a recovery.  This is a very sad story for Willis and I wish him the best. [...]

    by The Spot Starters » 2009 Season Dontrelle Willis » Thoughts on Dontrelle Willis on Mar 30, 2009 at 10:28 am

  22. Hi, Braves fan here. I’ve seen a report that the Braves have just traded Josh Anderson to you guys for Rudy Darrow. I was wondering (a) if Darrow is anything and (b) why a team with Curtis Granderson would want Josh Anderson.

    by Mac on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:46 pm

  23. Mac,

    A shallow analysis from a quick look at Fangraphs.com

    (a) Darrow – “ok” pitching prospect:
    (http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....position=P)

    (b) Anderson – I can only speculate that he’s meant to provide depth at center, which has been talked about here a little…he’s also a lefty bat (which the Tigers need more of), who hits for a decent average:
    (http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....osition=OF)

    by Andre in Chi on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:59 pm

  24. I don’t like this trade simply b/c
    1. its a pitcher for a position player
    2. its with the Braves

    every time we trade with the Braves we wind up resenting it later

    by Dave T. on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm

  25. Nice outing for ‘mando this afternoon. 9 K’s vs. 1 BB in 5 IP. 2 H, one of which stayed in the park (yes, I just paraphrased a Hawk Harrelson meme – shoot me).

    by Chris in Dallas on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:57 pm

  26. Chris,

    Like a trusty old huntin’ dawg that’s got nothing left, we’ll take you behind the shed and make sure its quick and painless…

    by Andre in Chi on Mar 30, 2009 at 5:33 pm

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