Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Personally, I feel it all comes down to whether or not they feel the outing would be beneficial to Dontrelle in returning to the mound. Will going up against provide a confidence boost that will energize him through the offseason and into 2009? Could possibly returning now stunt the progress he's made and throw off his mindset? In my opinion, with the Tigers having plenty of options to throw out there on the mound, Willis shouldn't see the mound in a live game again until spring training. Willis can get plenty of confidence that he's on the right track via simulated games and bullpen sessions, and the absolute worst thing that could happen right now would be for Willis to return to the mound and get shelled once again.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
The only way Dontrelle Willis hits the mound for the Tigers in game action this month, should be if they are absolutely certain he is healthy; particularly his knee. I'm not worried about the risk of damage to his psyche due to a poor performance, as much as I am about exacerbating any injuries that may exist. If his knee still isn't right, there's a good chance he'll be compensating for it in other components of his delivery, and could end up doing more significant damage somewhere else (ie, his arm). If the Tigers are certain his knee is healthy -- a certainty I'm not sure the current medical regime is capable of stating given their track record this season -- then by all means have him take the mound. If they aren't proof positive he's in good health right now, then he shouldn't step foot between the chalk lines during a true game.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I think everything will depend on how Willis looks in his simulated start. The same goes for Freddy Garcia. If they both look good, I could see the Tigers running them out there in a non-pennant race situation (perhaps at Texas or Cleveland, or at home against Kansas City) to see how their stuff is, and see how they fare against major league hitters. It's probably more important for the Tigers to see what Willis has considering he is under contract for 2009, and Garcia is not, although if the latter throws well, I would guess that the Tigers would likely be one of his top suitors, especially considering that he signed with them after being a free agent in the first place. If Willis does pitch and throws well, it would give him a nice springboard into next year, and give the Tigers at least a little bit of hope that he can contribute next year.
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