CLEARWATER, Fla. -- This is not how Dontrelle Willis wanted to open Spring Training with the Phillies.
He allowed three hits, four runs and two walks in just two-thirds of an inning Wednesday in a 10-3 loss to the Astros at Bright House Field. He said afterward he has some soreness in his left arm, although he does not believe it is serious.
"My arm just felt fatigued out there today," said Willis, who has allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings in two Grapefruit League appearances. "I need to go out there and battle and make better pitches. But I'll be all right. I just need a day. I'm really frustrated with my location, but if you're tired, you're tired. That's the bottom line."
Willis told the Phillies' athletic training staff Tuesday he felt sore, but he said Wednesday morning he felt OK to pitch.
A good spring is important for Willis, who is fighting for a bullpen job. Theoretically, Willis might have an advantage over other pitchers in camp, because he is a veteran left-hander, but he does not have a guaranteed contract like Chad Qualls, Jose Contreras or Kyle Kendrick, so the Phillies do not need to give him a chance at the beginning of the season if they do not feel he can help the team.
If Willis makes the team, it likely will be as a left-handed specialist. Lefties are 1-for-3 against him this spring, while right-handers are 4-for-7 with three walks.
"We're going to take the best team possible," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "Again, I don't see any reason to have a second lefty if he's not better than the righty before him. If he can't get anybody out, what kind of look is that? Really. What kind of look is it? The fact of the matter is how serviceable are they? That's what we're looking for. How do they fit in the mix of the whole bullpen? I don't care if he's lefty or righty, who is the most effective guy?"
Willis said he isn't concerned, but he knows he needs to do better.
"I'm trying to help the ballclub here, and [my performance today is] not going to get it done," Willis said. "If I'm tired, then I'm tired. As an athlete, you have to humble yourself that, 'Hey, you went out there and tried, and now let's reel you in and get you right.'"