Willis, Bowden shine on mound

MLB: MAR 03 World Baseball Classic - Team Venezuela at TigersDontrelle Willis resembled the pitcher who was the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year with Florida.
Michael Bowden resembled a pitcher who could be an American League Rookie of the Year.
Willis allowed two runs over 7 2/3 innings during a rehab start Wednesday for the Toledo Mud Hens against the Pawtucket Red Sox, who won 2-1, behind Bowden.
Bowden no-hit Toledo for 6 2/3 innings before Ryan Roberson’s double scored Brent Clevlen with what was an unearned run.
Bowden was yanked after that hit. He walked four, struck out two and threw 53 of 93 pitches for strikes.
Willis, meanwhile, has been on Detroit’s disabled list with an anxiety disorder.
“His problem has been getting the mental part of it back that he had in the past,” Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. “Who knows what happens sometimes? This year he’s a much different pitcher.
“He’s not far away from pitching in the big leagues. Obviously, the way he pitched tonight, he can pitch in the big leagues.”
Willis, 26, gave up five hits, walked four and struck out four.
He threw 74 of 118 pitches for strikes and topped out at 95 on McCoy Stadium’s radar gun.
“This is the most I’ve been stretched out since spring training,” Willis said. “I felt good. But with the Marlins I used to throw that all the time.
“I felt strong all the way through so that’s a good thing. That’s a key, especially on a night like this when it’s cold and sometimes when the innings are long.”
Willis blanked Pawtucket on an infield hit until the sixth when Chip Ambres reached on a bloop double and scored on Dusty Brown’s two-out single.
Willis retired the first two batters in the seventh but Angel Chavez lined the first pitch he saw into the left-field bullpen for a homer.
“I felt focused and (Max) St. Pierre, the catcher, called a great game,” Willis said. “I felt I was competing out there and was doing baseball-oriented things and having fun.”
Willis, who was 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA last year with Detroit, said he didn’t know if he would make another rehab start or be re-called by Detroit.
“It’s not our job to think about stuff like that,” he said. “Our job is to go out and play baseball at whatever level we’re at. There isn’t disappointment on my part even though everybody here wants to be in the big leagues.”
The reason why Willis isn’t in the big leagues has been open to discussion because he hasn’t been hampered by a physical ailment.
“I’m never depressed at all,” Willis said. “Everybody here in the locker room will tell you I’ve always been upbeat.
“I’ve always been an amped-up guy but I’m not crazy.”

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