Willis gets Minor League deal from Giants
Former Rookie of the Year pitched in San Francisco organization in 2010
SAN FRANCISCO -- F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that there are no second acts in American lives. The famed author would have retracted that remark if he stuck around long enough to see Dontrelle Willis.
An industry source confirmed Friday that the Giants have agreed with Willis, who turns 32 on Sunday, on a Minor League contract. This marks the ninth time Willis has switched organizations since injuries and ineffectiveness nagged him. It's also his second stint with the Giants.
It's uncertain whether Willis, whose deal was initially reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, will be in Major League camp. The Giants will evaluate Willis and determine what role is best for him, assuming the left-hander can harness his control and achieve consistency with his pitching mechanics, which were once distinguished by a high-kicking, corkscrewing delivery.
Last year, the Oakland native who graduated from Alameda's Encinal High School finished 5-4 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 starts with Long Island of the independent Atlantic League. The Angels then gave Willis a chance with their Triple-A Salt Lake City affiliate, where he went 2-1 with a 6.43 ERA in five games (four starts).
Willis last pitched in the Majors in 2011, when he finished 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts for Cincinnati. One year earlier he signed a midsummer contract with the Giants and recorded a 6.14 ERA in eight relief appearances for Triple-A Fresno and the organization's Rookie-level club in Arizona.
That sequence has typified Willis' struggles since he compiled a 68-54 record and a 3.78 ERA in five seasons (2003-07) with the Florida Marlins. He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2003 and finished second in the NL's Cy Young Award balloting in 2005, when he finished 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA. He also topped the Majors with five shutouts and seven complete games that year.
Willis slumped to 12-12 in 2006 and 10-15 in 2007, then was included in an eight-player trade with Miguel Cabrera that sent them to Detroit. Since 2008, Willis has gone 17-18 with a 3.71 ERA in 63 Minor League games, including 50 starts. His record in the Majors during that span is 4-15 with a 6.15 ERA in 43 games (40 starts).