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Published: 8/13/2008

Willis promoted to Mud Hens

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

Pitcher Dontrelle Willis has been promoted by the Detroit Tigers from Single-A Lakeland to the Mud Hens and will pitch for Toledo Friday night in Richmond.

In another move, the Tigers have given Freddy Garcia a chance to prove he can still pitch.

Willis will take the place of the injured Eddie Bonine in the Hens' starting rotation.

Willis, who is 0-1 with a 10.32 ERA and 21 walks in 111/3 innings for the Tigers this year, was sent from Detroit to Lakeland to work on his pitch control June 10. He went 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA and 11 walks in 28 innings at Single-A.

"He has shown a lot of improvement the last few times, and people feel he's ready to pitch there [Toledo]," Detroit president Dave Dombrowski said. "He's eager to do that."

Out of the majors since June, 2007, the two-time all-star Garcia agreed to a minor league contract with the Tigers. He had surgery on his right shoulder last August while with Philadelphia.

The right-hander previously pitched for the Chicago White Sox and the Seattle Mariners.

"He's a proven big league pitcher at a time in which it's hard to find pitching. He's always pitched well," Dombrowski said. "He's healthy now after the surgery. It's just he needs to build up his arm strength. I don't know if there's enough time to do it, but we also figure that we don't have anything to lose to try. He's a guy that we've always liked."

Said Garcia: "Right now, I'm feeling really good. I need to throw innings, so I'll throw some innings [at Lakeland]."

Garcia said he wouldn't mind pitching for Detroit next season. Dombrowski said there is no commitment by either side for 2009.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said the 33-year-old Garcia was a good gamble.

"I think it's a shot. I think Freddy took a shot and obviously thought enough of us to sign with us, and certainly we thought enough to sign him," he said. "Take a shot. See what happens. I don't think either party has anything to lose, but I think it's a good deal for both parties."

Garcia was a free agent looking for a team. More than a dozen clubs sent scouts to Miami to watch the righty throw last week.

The Phillies got Garcia in December, 2006, from the Chicago White Sox for two minor leaguers.

He had $10 million left on his contract but never found his form.

Garcia began last year on the disabled list because of biceps tendinitis and went 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 11 starts for Philadelphia.



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