Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com has an in-depth interview with Dontrelle Willis. Who is still attempting to make it back to the bigs, even though his “comeback,” for lack of a better term, has now lasted longer than the actual productive part of his career.
The difference: Willis sounds relaxed and at peace these days. Far more than he was during his short and stormy stint with the Orioles last year or even his brief stops with the Phillies, Diamondbacks and Reds:
Willis has been working out at HoHoKam Stadium. He said he was told he’s been hitting 91-92 mph during his bullpen sessions, though he doesn’t put much stock in the JUGS gun or believe he needs to pitch with maximum velocity. He said it doesn’t matter whether he’s used as a starter or a reliever.
“Baseball’s like life,” Willis said. “You have to trust what you have. You are who you are and be happy. And if they don’t like it, f—‘em, you know what I mean? That’s what it boils down to. You have to be honest with yourself.
In addition to where he is today, Willis offers his memories of the 2003 playoffs, including the Steve Bartman game and walking in to Yankee Stadium for the World Series. Which, surprisingly enough, he said was way easier than dealing with Wrigley Field.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter is not expected to retain his position with the club beyond the 2018 season, according to multiple reports from Jon Heyman of Fancred and Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. Nothing appears to be finalized just yet, however, and the Orioles have yet to address rumors of Showalter’s impending departure or news of a possible contract extension for general manager Dan Duquette.
Even so, it’s been a year of near-unprecedented disaster for the 62-year-old skipper, who helped lead the team to a 44-108 record prior to the outcome of Friday’s series opener against the Yankees. With the Orioles’ 108th loss — a 4-6 heartbreaker against the Blue Jays on Tuesday — they tied the 1937 St. Louis Browns for the second-most losses in a single season, eclipsed only by the 43-111 record of the 1939 Browns. As they have just 10 games remaining in the regular season, this year’s team has no chance of climbing out of last place in the AL East and may well finish with the worst record in the AL to boot.
While the Orioles’ missteps don’t bode well for Showalter’s future in Baltimore, he’s brought far more good than harm to the organization over the last eight and a half years. He assumed the managerial position from interim manager Juan Samuel in the middle of the team’s 2010 season and guided the club to five winning seasons and three postseason appearances in 2012, 2014, and 2016. Entering the 2018 season, his record sits at 666 wins and 677 losses, the winningest mark by any of the team’s skippers since Earl Weaver wrapped his 17-season run with the team in 1986. Whether the Orioles believe Showalter is capable of recovering from two consecutive losing seasons and returning the team to their former days of glory (and the occasional division title) remains to be seen, of course, though there’s plenty to recommend him as they prepare to advance a full-scale rebuild over the offseason.