Willis Gets One More Shot
Veteran lefty latches on with Giants
SAN FRANCISCO—The Giants' extended spring camp in Scottsdale is full of fresh-faced signees, reclamation projects and rehabbing players hoping for a minor league assignment.
Walking among them is a definite oddity: a multiple all-star and former rookie of the year who owns a World Series ring.
Dontrelle Willis is starting at the lowest rung while attempting to rebuild his major league career, and after washing out with the Diamondbacks this summer, he knew where he had the best chance to reinvent himself. Willis, 28, jumped at the opportunity to sign a minor league contract with the Giants, and not only because the Bay Area native might get the chance to pitch close to home. He wanted to work with Dick Tidrow, the Giants' vice president and resident pitching guru.
Tidrow immediately set to work with Willis on a revamped, simplified delivery that eliminated his signature high leg kick. Willis was operating exclusively from the stretch while facing hitters in camp games.
General manager Brian Sabean said the club would look to promote Willis to Triple-A Fresno as soon as all parties are confident that he can repeat his mechanics and throw strikes. If all works out, Willis could join the Giants as another relief option in September.
"He's still got a quality major league arm," Sabean said. "Maybe this is his niche. A lot of guys have crashed and burned and resurrected themselves (in the bullpen)."
Willis actually fielded two offers from national league clubs that were interested in him as a hitter, but he wasn't ready for that yet.
• Salem-Keizer manager Tom Trebelhorn has a special bond with the Brock family. He managed Greg Brock with the Brewers in the late 1980s. And now he is guiding Greg's son Daniel, a first baseman whom Trebelhorn convinced the Giants to sign after he wasn't drafted out of Saint Louis.
• The Giants began playing hot-hitting first baseman Brandon Belt in the outfield at Double-A Richmond, a likely precursor to a callup in September or earlier.