On Wednesday, The Detroit News’ Lynn Henning talked to Dontrelle Willis about how he’s feeling this spring and, long story short, he’s great!
Willis has “never been so excited to play baseball.” Though he was twice sent to the DL with anxiety disorder last season, he’s totally fine now.
What has he learned about anxiety and its possible effects on him?
“Nothing,” he said.
Does he take medication for his disorder?
Does he believe he has a defined medical problem under control heading into 2010?
“I don’t try to mess with that stuff,” he said. “I leave it in God’s hands. I’m not gonna get down, personally. I’m gonna continue to try and be a good teammate.”
Now, it’s important to emphasize that I am not a doctor. But I do know from reading about anxiety disorders on Wikipedia that they come in different shapes and sizes, and have lots of causes. Stress is one cause. I’m guessing a 7.49 ERA doesn’t help.
Moreover, I’d bet dollars to donuts that any treatment for anxiety would include at least one of two things. First, discussion about the causes of anxiety and the specific disorder’s symptoms; second, anti-anxiety medication.
So when Willis says he hasn’t learned anything about anxiety (implying he hasn’t been to therapy), nor has he taken medication, I’m left thinking that either he’s lying, he’s got the world’s worst doctors, or he never really had anxiety disorder at all.
Could his doctors be that bad? If so, I don’t hold out much hope for the Max Scherzer era.
Could Willis be lying? Sure. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to talk to a reporter about private medical stuff. Anxiety is, after all, a little different than a pulled hamstring. I’d probably just say, “No comment.” But not everyone is as media-savvy as me.
But let’s assume for a minute that Willis is telling the truth. In recent years, there’s been an increase in the number of players diagnosed with mental illnesses, especially depression and anxiety. I don’t have any stats. I’m just making an observation.
Depression and anxiety are real, and they can be deadly if left untreated. So it’s a good thing that teams are taking these mental ailments seriously.
But the sudden spike in depression and anxiety diagnoses also makes one wonder if maybe teams are starting to use mental illnesses as an excuse to get underperforming players out of the lineup. Who’s to say your .200-hitting left fielder doesn’t have depression, which doesn’t show up on an MRI?
I don’t know if Willis has or had an anxiety disorder. I do know it’s suspicious when he implies that he’s never been treated. And I sure hope Henning does a follow-up story.
In the meantime, it seems Willis has a new symptom, in addition to an inability to locate his fastball. He’s talking in the third-person.
“People see me smiling, but I think they’re confused about what the issue is with Dontrelle Willis,” said a pitcher who has spent most of the past two seasons on the disabled list, with one victory since joining the Tigers. “To me, the issue is, I’m terrible.”
Call the white coats. He’s got Rickyhendersonitis.