Dontrelle Willis made his return to the majors yesterday, starting for the Reds against the Brewers. I like Willis as a person so much that it has pained me to see him struggle these past three years, so I could barely look at the box score last night I was so nervous. But actually: it was OK. Not great, but OK.
Willis got a no-decision when Francisco Cordero blew the save, but did pitch well enough to win. He allowed two runs on four hits. The key to his struggles have been his walks, however, and he did walk four batters in six innings. Struck out four too. I didn’t see him pitch so I can’t say whether he had anything or if, like his last few big league stints, his strikeouts were a function of guys getting to eager too smack his flat stuff, so if anyone watched the game, please chime in with your impressions.
Obviously, though, one game won’t tell us enough about his outing to give us a clear idea of how long he’ll stick or if he’s anywhere close to being the pitcher he once was. I want to be optimistic, even if the walks are troubling. For now, though, he doesn’t have to be spectacular. He need only be better than Edinson Volquez, and that ain’t too tough a trick at the moment.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”
Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles are close to acquiring pitcher Vidal Nuno from the Dodgers in exchange for pitcher Ryan Moseley.
Nuno, 29, went to the Dodgers from the Mariners in the Carlos Ruiz trade this past November. He and the Dodgers avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $1.125 million salary for the 2017 season. The left-hander finished the 2016 campaign with a 3.53 ERA and a 51/11 K/BB ratio in 58 2/3 innings spanning one start and 54 relief appearances.
Nuno will provide the Orioles starting pitching depth and could serve as a valuable left-handed option out of the bullpen.
Moseley, 22, played his first season of professional baseball in the New York Penn League last year. In 12 relief appearances, he put up a 3.20 ERA and an 18/9 K/BB ratio across 19 2/3 innings. The Orioles selected him in the eighth round of the 2016 draft.