You can pencil in Dontrelle Willis as Detroit’s fifth starter to begin the season with the move by the Tigers yesterday to trade lefty Nate Robertson to the Florida Marlins. In return for Robertson, who spent seven seasons in Detroit, the Tigers get a minor league left handed pitcher from Florida.
Jeremy Bonderman also earns a stay with the Tigers. He pitched seven scoreless innings yesterday against a Houston minor league team. Willis has had a good spring, although he wasn’t sharp yesterday in Detroit’s 9-to-8 win over the Orioles. He allowed five runs on seven hits and 4 walks over 4-and-a-third innings against Baltimore. Miguel Cabrera hit two long home runs in the game, which the Tigers won on Alex Avilla’s ninth-inning rbi single.
Detroit also announced yesterday that Avilla made the roster as a backup catcher while infielder Jeff Larish was sent to minor league camp. Detroit has two more games in Florida and then leaves tomorrow night for games in Milwaukee Friday night and Saturday afternoon ahead of the Tiger’s regular season opener Monday at Kansas City.