Tigers-Royals Preview

Though Dontrelle Willis’ previous two seasons in Detroit were
nothing short of miserable, the former All-Star is getting another
chance to prove he deserves a spot in the Tigers’ starting
rotation.

Willis takes the mound for the first time since June when the
visiting Tigers conclude their series with the Kansas City Royals
on Wednesday afternoon.

A former rookie of the year and World Series champion who won 22
games in 2005, Willis is 1-6 with an 8.27 ERA in 15 appearances
since being acquired by the Tigers in a trade with Florida in
December 2007. His time in Detroit has been marred by injuries,
pitch command troubles and an anxiety disorder that cut short his
2009 season after seven starts.

Despite these issues, Willis returned for spring training and
beat out Nate Robertson for a spot in the Tigers’ rotation.

“We have a lot of confidence in him coming back,” team president
and general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Tigers’ official Web
site. “I think he’s done a lot. He’s pitched well this spring. I
don’t know what else (he could do).”

The 28-year-old left-hander went 2-0 with a 3.22 ERA in eight
spring training appearances.

“I think I put together a great spring,” said Willis, who will
make his first career appearance against Kansas City. “I’m not done
though. I’m not content. I want to continue to work hard. I’m just
thankful. I’m very thankful.”

Willis looks to help the Tigers bounce back from a 3-2,
11-inning loss to the Royals on Wednesday. After Detroit rallied
from a three-run deficit to win 8-4 in Monday’s opener, Kansas City
scored twice in the 11th to even the series.

Miguel Cabrera was one of four Tigers with two hits, including a
game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth. Cabrera is 4 for 9
with three RBIs in two games. He’s batting .370 with seven home
runs and 24 RBIs in 23 career games at Kauffman Stadium.

Two of Cabrera’s three hits against Kansas City’s scheduled
starter Brian Bannister are homers.

Bannister returns to the mound after he missed the final month
of the 2009 season because of shoulder fatigue.

Though Bannister went 7-12 with a 4.73 ERA in 26 starts last
season, the right-hander has fared well against Detroit in his
career. He’s 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA, but hasn’t faced the Tigers since
2008.

After missing the opener due to an irritation to the right side
of his body his suffered during spring training, Kansas City’s
Alberto Callaspo hit a game-tying homer in the 11th. Willie
Bloomquist then scored the winning run on a throwing error off a
double from Rick Ankiel.

“It showed the resilience of our team,” Royals second baseman
Chris Getz said. “felt like we were in the driver’s seat Monday and
let it slip away, and then we were in the driver’s seat again
(Wednesday). If we had let it slip away, we would have bounced
back, but it would have been more difficult.”

Callaspo, who hit .300 in a career-high 155 games last season,
is batting .340 with five of his 12 career homers against
Detroit.