Willis to the DL With ... Anxiety Disorder?
That's the word from MLB.com'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.
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