Would Dontrelle Willis be better off continuing to rebuild himself against actual competition this off-season, or working on the side with Tigers coaches? That has yet to be decided, with Willis scheduled for one more start for the Tigers on Saturday. But Jim Leyland prefers his pitcher to find his control while facing hitters in a winter league.
Perhaps Willis will feel that he needs some time away from the field to get his head together. And maybe that would actually be beneficial after suffering the indignity of being shuttled all the way down to Single-A. But if Willis were to play winter ball, he'd not only get more of an opportunity to test himself against hitters, but Tigers management could get a read on how much he might be able to help their pitching staff next season.
"I'm going to recommend it highly," Leyland said, "but I'm obviously not going to force the issue. Because I think it's important for any player that goes to winter ball, it's important that you go with the right approach."
I've already expressed my feelings that I hope Willis isn't a part of next year's pitching staff. But the Tigers do have to find out what they really have here, and even if they ultimately decide to cut their losses, Willis performing well in a winter league might increase his appeal to any team possibly interested in acquiring him.
Wishful thinking? Probably, but what else is there right now?