Willis returns, but sinus issue persists

Willis returns, but sinus issue persists

DETROIT -- Just because Dontrelle Willis rejoined the Tigers on Wednesday doesn't mean he returned healthy enough to pitch. The look on his face told that much.

Willis is back after being kept home the past couple days with what he characterized as a severe sinus infection, and said he would try to get himself in shape to where he's available out of the bullpen if needed. However, his face was still showing the effects of the illness, and he was still running a fever, though it wasn't nearly the 102-degree temperature he had at one point Monday. He had several bottles of sports drink at his locker.

Willis hasn't been able to eat solid food for a couple days, he said.

"It has to be a sinus thing," Willis said Wednesday morning, "because I don't get sick."

Manager Jim Leyland said he wouldn't consider Willis at this stage even in an emergency. If he was realistically available, Leyland said, they wouldn't have made the roster move to call up Alfredo Figaro from Triple-A Toledo.

Willis said he started feeling sick during the day on Sunday in Cleveland and then felt terrible on the flight home. Fortunately for the Tigers, nobody else on the team has fallen ill so far. Willis had trouble sleeping Sunday night and called the medical staff first thing Monday morning.

An examination from Dr. Michael Workings determined he had neither the health nor the energy level to start Monday night, leading to a bullpen start for left-hander Brad Thomas.

Willis' spot in the rotation comes back up on Saturday, and it's expected he'll make that start. It's vitally important for the Tigers that he make that start; the Tigers already have to fill a starting spot Sunday, since they will not go with Rick Porcello on short rest.