The Giants signed Dontrelle Willis to a minor league deal back in January and the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, have added the lefty to their active roster, per the Grizzlies’ Twitter account.
Willis, 32, hasn’t pitched in the Major Leagues since 2011, but it hasn’t been for a lack of trying. Going into the 2012 season, Willis signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, but he was released during spring training. The Orioles grabbed him, and he made four appearances with Triple-A Norfolk. Willis announced his retirement on July 2, but he wouldn’t stay retired for long.
The Cubs signed Willis to a minor league deal in January 13, but Willis injured his shoulder in his first spring start and the Cubs released him. The Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League signed him in April and he had good results, though against markedly inferior competition. Willis made the Atlantic League All-Star team, and the Angels signed him to a minor league deal in August. He posted more poor results at Triple-A.
Willis won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2003 with the Marlins, and finished second in NL Cy Young voting in 2005. His quirky mechanics soon caused control issues, leading to his star falling quickly. During his prime, he was one of baseball’s most interesting players and he was a lot of fun to watch.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.