Dontrelle Willis is filing a grievance against the Orioles

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Dontrelle Willis was placed on the restricted list by the Baltimore Orioles list after, according to them anyway, he went AWOL as the result of his unhappiness at being forced to work from the pen instead of starting.

Willis, through his agent Matt Sosnick, says that is hooey — they say he left the team with consent — and they are filing a grievance. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN Reports:

Pitcher Dontrelle Willis is filing a grievance against the Baltimore Orioles, alleging that the club placed him on the restricted list and is preventing him from signing with another organization even though he left the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate with the consent of a team official.

Willis received permission from Tripp Norton, Baltimore’s director of baseball administration, before leaving the Norfolk Tides last Wednesday, said agent Matt Sosnick.

Sosnick says that Norton said “we don’t want a player doing something he doesn’t want to do” and said he was thus free to leave.  There are a bunch of additional quotes from Sosnick and Willis which strongly suggests that, at least in the minds of Sosnick and Willis, Willis had full permission to leave. If it was an open question, I’m not sure they’d be so forthcoming and adamant about it.

Oh, and there is a sick, sick burn of Dan Duquette in the last paragraph, when Sosnick responds to speculation that Willis might have offers to play in Japan or Korea:

“I have not been contacted by any Asian team about Dontrelle,” Sosnick said. “But I know that Dan has closer ties to Korea than I do, so maybe he knows something that I don’t know.”

Dan Duquette’s Orioles, of course, have been banned from any activity in Korea due to scouting misdeeds there.  At least that’s what I hope Sosnick was referencing.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.