"It's been something that would come and go since I made it to the big leagues, but this is the worst it's ever been for me," Willis said. "But you have to grind it out and find a way to stay on the mound for your team."
It's been a nagging injury, he said, since his first start of the season. He cracked it open during his first start of the year at Kansas City, and he has been performing maintenance on it ever since. He took Tuesday off of throwing a baseball to allow it to heal a little bit, but simply throwing at all eventually brings it back.
In the case of Monday's start, it became an issue an inning or two into the game. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said they were working on controlling the pain between innings. Manager Jim Leyland said he was aware of it, but he wasn't going to make a move unless Willis told him he couldn't pitch.
That isn't going to happen unless it gets a lot worse. If anything, Willis joked, his command got better after it began to tear open again.
"You just do the best you can," Willis said. "I just don't want my nail ripping totally off. It's not one of those things where you can just buy another nail."