Dontrelle Willis was once a can't-miss prospect. That's the same burden now being placed on Matt Wieters.
Willis continues his comeback with the Detroit Tigers, taking the mound Friday night against a suddenly surging Baltimore Orioles team set to put Wieters behind the plate for his first major league start.Detroit (26-20) leads the AL Central by 3 1/2 games, but has lost four of six. The Tigers couldn't get much going at the plate in this series' opener, losing 5-1 on Thursday.They now turn to Willis (1-1, 3.57 ERA), who's showing signs of consistency in three starts after missing the first six weeks of the season with an anxiety disorder. He gave up three runs and seven hits while walking four in 6 2-3 innings in a 3-1 loss to Colorado on Sunday."When I'm getting guys out, it looks like I know what I'm doing, and when I don't, it doesn't," said Willis, the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year with Florida. "It has never stopped being fun, though. It was fun when I was pitching in the minors. I love playing baseball."Willis earned a win in his only start against the Orioles, allowing two runs and 12 hits in 8 2-3 innings for the Marlins in a 6-2 victory on June 20, 2006.That was Willis' last solid year in the majors. He lost 15 games and posted a 5.17 ERA for the Marlins the following season, and health issues have limited him to 11 appearances since being traded to the Tigers in December 2007.Willis dominated at every level in the minors before joining Florida, and went 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA in his rookie year.Baltimore (22-26) hopes Wieters can have the same type of impact as Willis. The fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Wieters is considered the Orioles' most promising young player."I can understand the anticipation and the excitement that everybody has," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. "You don't get these guys very often."Wieters has excelled in the minors, batting .345 with Class-A Frederick last year before being promoted on June 27 to Double-A Bowie, where he hit .365 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 61 games. This year, the 23-year-old slugger hit .305 with five home runs and 30 RBIs in 39 games with Triple-A Norfolk.On the eve of Wieters' call-up, another Baltimore rookie was in the spotlight as Nolan Reimold homered for the third straight game. He has connected five times in 14 contests since being recalled from Norfolk on May 14.Luke Scott, meanwhile, homered twice for the Orioles, giving him three with seven RBIs and four runs in last two games since coming off the disabled list due to a strained left shoulder.Reimold and Scott helped Baltimore win its season-high fourth straight and sixth of seven, allowing two runs or fewer in five of those contests.Brad Bergesen (1-2, 5.49) next gets the call for the Orioles, and is 0-2 with a 6.11 ERA in his last three starts. The rookie right-hander surrendered four runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings in an 8-5 loss to Washington on Sunday.This will be Bergesen's first appearance against Detroit.