Tag: Dontrelle Willis

Dontrelle Willis to Retire: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Dontrelle Willis, who became an instant sensation after debuting with the Florida Marlins in 2003, has reportedly decided to retire for the second time at the age of 33.

According Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Willis gave word to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday that he was done:

Willis spent 2014 splitting time with the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A team in Fresno and the Independent League Bridgeport Bluefish. He signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in January, with manager Bob Melvin telling Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel it was a low-risk bet on a player.

“You never know,” said Melvin, who has been looking for left-handed relief help. “You give guys another chance and sometimes they come through for you. He has kept himself in shape and continues to work at it.”

Unfortunately, things never came together for Willis after his career fell on hard times in 2007. He previously retired in 2012 after a short stint in the minors with the Baltimore Orioles. 

He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2003 and finished second in NL Cy Young voting in 2005, but from 2008 to 2011, he was unable to appear in more than 15 games due to anxiety problems

While it’s a sad way for such a young and entertaining athlete to retire, Willis certainly provided his share of memories in a brief time. His unique wind-up and enthusiasm for the game, especially in the early days, made him one of the sport’s biggest stars. 

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Chicago Cubs: Can Dontrelle Willis Come Back to Form with the Cubs in 2013?

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, left-handed pitcher Dontrelle Willis has signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs—the team who originally drafted him in the eighth round in 2000.  

The 2003 National League Rookie of the Year had originally retired from baseball in July.

Willis, who turns 31 next week, last pitched professionally for the Baltimore Orioles‘ Triple-A affiliate in 2012. He gave up eight runs in only 6.1 innings pitched and subsequently retired.

Ever since leaving the Florida Marlins—who he last pitched for in 2007—Willis has suffered from constant injuries and has struggled to regain form.  

The two-time All-Star, however, was lightning earlier in his career.

Willis led the league with 22 wins, seven complete games and five shutouts in 2005 while finishing second in Cy Young Award voting.  He also led the league with 35 games started in 2007—though he also was the leader in earned runs as well.

Though Willis’ current mindset seems to be focused on returning to baseball, he’s also no stranger to erratic behavior—as well as erratic pitching.  

After his horrific outing with the the Orioles’ minor league affiliate last year, Willis was placed on the restricted list for two months and later filed a grievance against the ball club after it demoted him to the bullpen.

He also hasn’t had anything lower than a 4.98 ERA since 2008 and has averaged 8.2 walks per nine innings in that span.  

Has his short time away from the game given him enough time to clear his head and focus on pitching?

Whether or not it has, this decision comes with little risk to the Cubs and could pay dividends if Willis can show a glimmer of his prior self.  

What do you think?  Will he be able to come back from five years of obscurity?  


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Dontrelle Willis: Baltimore Orioles Sign Willis to Minor-League Deal

Dontrelle Willis has signed a minor-league contract with the Baltimore Orioles, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, it is a “split contract that’s worth $700k for bigs.”

How did this happen?

After an explosive start to his career, which was highlighted by 22-10 campaign in 2005, the 30-year-old left-hander hit a wall and struggled to find his way back to the major leagues on a permanent basis.

Although last season was definitely not incredibly successful for Willis, as he posted a 1-6 record and a 5.00 ERA, one interesting statistic emerged. Right-handed hitters were having a field day against Willis, but left-handed batters only managed to hit .127 against him. In the 55 times Willis faced a left-handed bat last season, 20 of them were sent back to the dugout on strikes. Getting outs is a step in the right direction.

This type of effectiveness against left-handers convinced the Philadelphia Phillies to give him a spot as a bullpen specialist. However, that didn’t work out as planned. Willis surrendered five earned runs in 2.2 innings this spring, leading to his release from the Phillies.

That brings us to the Baltimore Orioles. A few days ago, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted that the Baltimore Orioles are looking for starting pitching. Willis might be an interesting option; $700,000 is not very much to pay for someone who was, at one point, near the top of baseball. What if he is able to recapture some of his old magic?

I’m not saying that this is a likely situation, but Willis proved last season that he can get people out (though, granted, mainly just left-handed batters). However, what if he really is on an uphill track? He probably won’t be able to win 22 games again, but I will admit that it would be nice to see Dontrelle Willis make a return as a serviceable starting pitcher.

Whether you think I know everything or nothing about Major League Baseball, you should follow me on Twitter and keep in touch. I love hearing what you all have to say!

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What the Jimmy Rollins Signing Means for the Phillies in 2012

According to Jim Salisbury of CSN, shortstop Jimmy Rollins has signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the Phillies.

While it’s a relief to hear that J-Roll is coming back, one must also consider what his signing means to other aspects of the team.

Jimmy Rollins may only be the shortstop, but his impact is far-reaching throughout the organization.

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The Last Hurrah: 12 MLB Players Who Will Likely Play Their Final Year in 2011

Each year, players call an end to a career in Major League Baseball for various reasons. Some become tired of the daily grind and want to focus more on family, some have simply gotten older and are unable to compete at a desired level, and some are unable to fully recover from prior injuries.

This spring, several players have already announced their retirement, including Garrett Anderson, Jim Edmonds, Ian Snell and Mike Hampton. While Anderson, Edmonds and Hampton all enjoyed varying degrees of success, and each with over 15 years of MLB experience, Snell retired at the age of 29, unable to fully realize his potential after being drafted in the 26th round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

We will take a look at 12 players who will likely call it a career after the end of the 2011 season, and conclude whether or not some of the players should have retired earlier, or if they could possibly continue to play at a high level going forward.

For continuing coverage of Major League Baseball, follow Doug on Twitter @Sports_A_Holic.

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Cincinnati Reds Trim More Fat: Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Hermida Sent to Minors

With opening day only three days away, the Cincinnati Reds roster is looking more like the Walking Wounded than a defending champion.

A pitching rotation of Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood, Mike Leake and probably Sam LeCure will not strike fear into the hearts of the collective sluggers of the Milwaukee Brewers. Their combined ERA is 6.45.

Arroyo is currently suffering through a bout of Mononucleosis, while would-be starters Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto are starting the season on the shelf.

Spring Training sensation Dave Sappelt, along with pitcher Dontrelle Willis will begin the season in Louisville while Jeremy Hermida will throw his line into the waters of the MLB to see if there are any bites.

The Reds pitching this spring has been terrible for the most part. Volquez was rocked in his last show before he opens the season on Thursday. He has worked only 9+ innings this spring in preparation for the season premiere and boasts an 8.38 ERA in two starts.

The final position spot on the 25-man roster is a battle between home grown Juan Francisco and newcomer Fred Lewis. On paper Francisco would be a lead pipe cinch but with Dusty Baker’s love for veterans, it is anybody’s guess. Lewis has a minor injury so that could be a factor.

In my opinion, as controversial as it may be at times, would have been to keep Hermida and let Lewis hang with the Bats for a little while. Hermida has had a real good spring, batting .342 with 3 HR and an OBP of .458.

Lewis has an anemic average of .205 but is among the team leaders with 11 RBI.

The final two cuts for the bullpen will involve a final four of Matt Maloney, Jared Burton, Logan Ondrusek and Jose Arredondo. My money is on Ondrusek and Burton to remain with the mother ship as the other two will probably begin the season with the Bats in Louisville.

This is my best guess of what you will see when the game starts Thursday:

1. Drew Stubbs – CF

2. Brandon Phillips -2B

3. Joey Votto – 1B

4. Scott Rolen – 3B

5. Jay Bruce – RF

6. Jonny Gomes – LF

7. Ryan Hanigan – C

8. Paul Janish – SS

9. Edinson Volquez – P

It looks a little bleak right now, but buck up kids, the Reds are going to REPEAT this season.

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MLB Pitchers on the Mend: 10 Hurlers Trying To Make Comebacks in 2011

It’s a fickle life in Major League Baseball. Here today, gone tomorrow is a phrase often used when referring to ballplayers who had a quick run of success before seemingly losing it altogether, or players felled by injuries who were unable to make it all the way back.

The stories of great fame and then injury go back many years in baseball, especially among pitchers. Dizzy Dean was a classic example.

Known as the Ace of the Gashouse Gang for the St. Louis Cardinals, Dean was the last pitcher to win 30 games in the National League, reaching that mark in 1934.

However in 1937, Dean was struck by a line drive off the bat of Earl Averill, during that year’s All-Star game, fracturing his left big toe.

When Dean attempted to come back too soon after the injury, he altered his motion, which hurt his throwing shoulder, thereby robbing him of his famous fastball. Although Dean continued to pitch for several more seasons, he never approached his earlier success.

Another example was Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Steve Blass. Between the years of 1968-1972, Blass was one of the better and more durable pitchers in the National League.

He amassed four 15-win seasons in five years, his best in 1972, when he posted a 19-8 record with a 2.49 earned run average, earning him a runner-up finish behind Steve Carlton in the NL Cy Young award balloting.

Blass also won two games for the Pirates in the 1971 World Series, including the clinching Game 7 victory in which Blass threw a four-hitter in Game 3.

However, in 1973, Blass slipped to 3-9 with a 9.85 ERA, and was in the minors the following season. Blass completely lost the ability to throw strikes, and his control never returned. He was out of baseball by 1975.

This season, there are quite a few pitchers who are attempting to either come back from injuries, or trying to salvage a mess of a season the year before.

We rank the top 10 pitchers who will be attempting a comeback to glory for the 2011 MLB season.

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Spring Training 2011: 5 Hurlers To Watch In Cincinnati Reds Camp

By mid-February, most of us are securely wrapped in our winter cocoons. A multitude of wool coats clutter our closets, nights are spent wrapped in Snuggies (don’t hate) and the thought of getting up in the morning is like an icicle to the nads.

Then, just as we’re ready to give hibernation a shot (show me someone who says hibernation doesn’t sound awesome and I’ll show you a stone-cold liar), we’re reminded of the golden age of summer by one simple phrase: pitchers and catchers report.

When baseball fans hear those four words, it’s as if some bizarre baseball dog whistle pierces through the frigid still of the season, calling us to action. It’s as if a bat signal is lit in the night sky, gleaming triumphantly and reminding us the time has come. Baseball fanatics begin to cling to their Internet feeds, hungry for any nugget of intel from the Promised Lands down South.

Yep, every year, as the temperature slowly climbs and daylight invades our evening commute, America’s pastime begins to pervade our consciousness. For baseball fans, February is the beginning.

And, of course, for Reds fans it’s no different.

This winter, the talk in Cincinnati has been about sustaining a winner. Can they? Will they? What will stand in the way? With most of the roster returning, the Reds have only a select few question marks (the fourth and fifth starters will be selected from three candidates, the last bullpen and bench spots are up for grabs) and those issues have been discussed at length already.

However, while Cincinnati may not see much roster upheaval, their success in 2011 most certainly will depend on the continued development of several key youngsters, and a few new additions. So, to celebrate the pilgrimage of the Reds hurlers to Arizona, here are five pitchers (not named Chapman) whose progress should be monitored closely as Spring Training gets underway.

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Cincinnati Reds 2011: Hot Stove Wrap Up

Cincinnati Reds fans are anxious for the start of the 2011 season. Unfortunately, many of us have been engaged in the NFL and haven’t followed the Reds very closely. There have been a few off-season player transactions to catch up on.

The Reds didn’t make any huge deals like this one or this one but they did do something.

Here are the moves they did make.

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No Need For Dontrelle Willis, But Giants Should Stock Up Down Stretch

The San Francisco Giants are still in the playoff chase, even after Monday’s mind-bending loss.

Really, could the gem that Jonathan Sanchez pitched have been wasted any more painfully that it was against Colorado in the series opener?

Could an apparently inspiring win have been lost any more quickly?

The Colorado lead-off hitter reached in the ninth before a misplayed fly ball led to a freaky bounce on an accurate throw to third. The Giants 1-0 edge became a 2-1 Rockies win in an instant.

Moving forward, the Giants do have reason to give great thought to the pending September call-ups. They are in position where they should ponder dropping a player from the 40-man roster to make room for a relief pitcher, or maybe a starter, who can help in the final month.

Players already on the 40-man roster who, most obviously, figure to be recalled are relief pitcher Waldis Joaquin and, potentially, starter Henry Sosa. The pen will get a lift when Dan Runzler returns from the disabled list. Chris Ray and Guillermo Mota will also come off the DL, but history indicates that won’t necessarily make the bullpen better.

The Giants have no business adding veteran Dontrelle Willis to the 40-man roster. First, adding him means dropping a player from the 40-man for a completely fallen star. Second, left-hander Matt Yourkin and right-hander Steve Edlefsen are far more deserving of a spot on the 40-man and in the big leagues in September.

Willis has only pitched in three games in Fresno. In three innings, the struggling veteran has walked four, given up two hits and allowed three runs. The southpaw Yourkin, who could start or relieve in San Francisco, is 7-8 with 4.36 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 130 innings—mostly as a starter. Edlefsen is 7-1 with a 2.04 ERA and six saves coming out of Fresno’s bullpen.

Edlefsen is a career Giants farmhand who merits the big league bid more than Yourkin, at least based on numbers. Yourkin, however, is a journeyman who would give the club a fourth lefty in the pen. The Giants would get more use out of Yorkin as a situational lefty or, perhaps, as a spot starter to give the beleaguered rotation a break heading into September.

The players most likely to be dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Yourkin, Edlefsen, or Willis include left-hand reliever Alex Hinshaw, right-hand starter Kevin Puecetas and journeyman utilityman Eugenio Velez.

The Giants can make a case for either of those pitchers having long-term value. Velez has the potential for short-term help as a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter. But, really, he has too often squandered opportunities to keep a big league job. How much help, really, will Velez provide in this playoff chase?

The Giants would be wise to trim Velez from the 40-man roster and add Yourkin, simply because the starting pitchers need a break and there isn’t a starting pitcher in the pen right now. And, there’s always a need for another lefty reliever.

Emmanuel Burris can be recalled to provide late-inning defense up the middle and pinch-run. Ryan Rohlinger could help at shortstop where Juan Uribe has played every single day since Edgar Renteria was hurt.

There are other hitters for the Giants to consider.

First baseman Brett Pill is on the 40-man roster and has a solid season in Fresno. Brandon Belt is, clearly, the first baseman of the Giants’ future. Belt is not on the 40-man, so bringing him up after hitting .217 in six games at Triple-A doesn’t make sense. There’s use for a right-handed bat like Pill.

Pablo Sandoval has finally gotten hot at the plate, but has become a defensive liability at third base. Lefty-swinging third baseman Conor Gillaspie hit .290 with a .350 on-base percentage for Double-A Richmond. The former first-round draft pick has six homers and 63 RBIs. He has 16 errors for the Flying Squirrels, but he still merits a spot in San Francisco in September.

Gillespie could pave the way to move Sandoval to first base some down the stretch—and fill in if Sandoval is needed to catch in an emergency. It would be nice to see and show where’s the young third baseman stands as a prospect.

The Giants could make recalls on the cheap. Save the meal money and hotel costs to house the extra players for 30 days. With a playoff spot there for the taking and the knowledge that we never know when the least likely player becomes the most inexplicable hero, the Giants should call all hands on deck.

Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com

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