Dontrelle Willis and Vladimir Guerrero are going to be teammates.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Willlis, who was released by the Cubs at the end of spring training, has signed with the independent league Long Island Ducks, who also announced a deal with Vladimir Guerrero this morning.
Hard to say who has a better chance of getting back to the majors at this point. Guerrero is 38 years old, didn’t play in the majors last season, and is pretty much limited to designated hitter duties by now, which as Jim Thome can tell you is an awfully tough market. On the other hand Willis is just 31, but hasn’t been effective in the majors since 2006. Seriously, 2006.
I guess the correct answer is probably “neither” but at least the Atlantic League will be a little more interesting to watch for a while.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.