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Willis to the DL With ... Anxiety Disorder?

That's the word from's Jason Beck, who reports that the Tigers have placed the erstwhile ace on the 15-day disabled list to begin a course of treatment for the condition.

It's worth noting that Willis' DL move came after blood tests were conducted last week, ending the starters' attempt to regain his form and move back into the Detroit starting rotation. It's unknown whether the blood tests used were CBC or thyroid function tests, or a new test being pioneered by Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Whichever method was used, it brought back results significant enough that Willis immediately expressed significant concern.

"They didn't like what they saw in the blood [tests]," Willis said. "They had a very concerned look on their faces."

"It's unfortunate," Willis said, "but I'm just more concerned about my health. Don't get me wrong, I wish the best for this ballclub, and I love the game of baseball, and I want to be around for a long time. But you have to be honest with yourself. If your health's not right, you have to take care of it yourself."

"I'm not crazy. My teammates might think I'm crazy, but this is not something like that. This is something totally different that I'm concerned about. This is something in my blood."

There's really no way to sugarcoat Willis' time with the Tigers: He's been an enormous bust. In 2008, his first season in Detroit, Willis spent significant more time on the DL in two separate stints than he did on the active roster. He struck out 18 batters in a grand total of 24 innings, finishing the season 0-2 with a whopping 9.38 ERA.

By all accounts, Willis was killing himself trying to make the roster, but still was unlikely to do so. His contract makes him virtually untradeable -- he's due $22 million over this year and next -- and moving him to the DL may actually be a blessing for Detroit, letting the team buy more time before having to decide whether to option Willis to the minors (a move he could reject to become a free agent), release him or force him back into the rotation or bullpen.

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski gave no indication of how the team planned to proceed with Willis after his treatment is complete. In fact, he said they hadn't even discussed whether to keep him in Florida, send him to Detroit or let him return home to start battling the condition.

Whatever they do, we can all hope Willis gets better soon. It's hard to imagine what life would be like with anxiety disorder, let alone trying to earn a spot on a competitive roster while struggling with it.

By Cameron Smith  |  March 29, 2009; 6:10 PM ET
Categories:  Tigers  
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Next: Doubts About Willis' Disorder Surface


I was watching some of the Tigers ST game earlier and saw an item on Willis scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Poor guy. Hope he gets better soon, for sure.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

In order to develop a reliable blood test for anxiety disorders, you'd first have to have a reliable biological marker, and to my knowledge, there isn't one.

In its absence, the best you could hope for on a lab test is to pick up some increased level of stress hormones.

And as you pointed out, it's chicken or egg -- is Willis' anxiety the cause of, or the result of, his pitching problems?

THe best explanation I've heard so far is that he's lost a couple miles an hour off his velocity. That alone could account for how often he's getting hit. He never did change speeds very well and relied instead on an unusual delivery to throw the hitters off. If they've gotten to where they can time him, he's toast. Best to take the $22 mil and wait for retirement.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 30, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

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