Duquette on signing Willis

In case you missed it, the Orioles signed Dontrelle Willis to a Minor League deal which was made official today.  You can read Willis’ quotes from this morning here. And here’s what executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette had to say about the move…

“The idea is to see if he can be a lockdown left-handed reliever against left-handed hitters,” Duquette said. “Our interest in that project is lefties hit .127 off him last year, and three of the last four years he’s done very well vs. left-handed hitters.”

“The other thing that’s interesting is Dontrelle Willis has had a significant major league career and he’s been a winning pitcher and placed high in Cy Young Award voting, but he’s only 30 years old, and a lot of times these left-handed relievers are just beginning their careers in their early-to-mid 30s. So if you take a look at Arthur Rhodes, for example, who made that transition and did it effectively, he was pitching up until last year. He was in the World Series. So, we’re going to give that a shot with Dontrelle Willis.”

Duquette acknowledged that for Willis to transition into the relief role he will probably need some time in Triple-A.

“Cla Rapada was our left-handed specialist, and when we added (Wilson) Betemit, we lost him,” Duquette said. “We said we were going to look around for a left-handed specialist that Buck could use against left-handed hitters, and we’re going to see if we have that in Dontrelle Willis.”

“We still have a number of players in our camp that we need to evaluate and see where they fit in on our team. Concurrently, we’ll be looking for opportunities outside the organization. But we’ve got some more work to do on our people here.”

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