First things first: Yes, Dontrelle Willis is still floating around in the Major League Baseball universe.
But for how much longer remains to be seen after the one-time star pitcher walked out on his current team.
The 30-year-old lefty reportedly left the Baltimore Orioles’ Class AAA affiliate in Norfolk without permission due to his frustration over his role in the bullpen, according to a CBSSports.com report.
The Orioles signed the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year and 2005 NL Cy Young Award runner-up to add left-handed depth to their bullpen after Willis was released by Philadelphia during spring training. At the time, Willis seemed prepared to embrace to move from the rotation to the bullpen.
“The role is still the same,” he told the Baltimore Sun on March 21. “So I’m definitely still getting used to coming out of the bullpen, but it seemed like their bullpen was already set for Philadelphia. It’s just another opportunity to get out there with another young, talented team and go out there and show my stuff.”
Yeah, about that...
“He just left,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told CBSSports.com. Willis left the Tides after a meeting with manager Ron Johnson, pitching coach Mike Griffin and Duquette. The Orioles would welcome Willis back should he return, Duquette said.
The team abruptly placed Willis on its restricted list on Monday night. Willis was placed on Norfolk’s DL with a forearm strain on his pitching arm on April 12.
“The D-Train” made 13 starts with Cincinnati last season, posting a 1-6 record with a 5.00 ERA. One of baseball’s bright young stars and personalities during his first five seasons with the Marlins, Willis has struggled with injuries and inconsistency since. He has made only 40 starts since the start of the 2008 season, and has not posted an ERA below 5.00 since 2006.