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Dontrelle Willis showing improvement this spring

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Third season's a charm?

Dontrelle Willis is excited. He's feeling good. He's ready to contribute. Maybe in his third season with the Tigers, it's going to be different!

Maybe. We'll see. But so far, so good for the lefty who has contributed little on the field during his first two seasons in the Olde English D.

MLB.com's Jason Beck quoted manager Jim Leyland:

"I think Dontrelle looks like a totally different person this spring. I think he looks relaxed. He's been throwing great. He's got good energy. He's fun to be around. I'm really happy with him. I'm happy how he's going about it. He just looks like a more confident person."

Willis told Beck he just wanted to get back to the basics and be true to who he was. When he felt like his mechanics were getting out of whack, he made the adjustments he needed to get back on track. When he saw how batters reacted to his pitches, he made changes to try to get them with the next pitch.

"To be able to make the adjustments and not be [at] pitch 12, pitch 13, and really throw a quality strike and get guys to hit it, I think that's what I wanted to do today."

It seems to me, that's the kind of thing that Willis struggled with in the past, leading to his control getting all out of whack and walks being issued frequently.

Don't kid yourself, Willis is definitely in the race for the Tigers' fifth starter. And trust me, that really is a good thing. The more starting pitchers the Tigers have competing for a spot with positive contributions, the better. We don't want someone sliding backwards into a top five role.

We want someone actually going out there and winning it.

More news from Friday:

Bonus quote: I forgot to include this elsewhere, but new Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer answered questions from the fans at Tigers.com. Everyone's new favorite:

Tiger_Forever: What is your best pitch?

Scherzer: The one that strikes out Joe Mauer.