Dontrelle Willis has announced his retirement, the Baltimore Orioles announced officially on Monday afternoon, ending a successful and unusual Major League career for the left-handed pitcher nicknamed “D-Train”.
Willis, 30, signed a Minor League deal with the Orioles this spring as a lefty specialist before eventually returning to a starting role after a dispute with the organization regarding a forearm strain he believed came from working out of the bullpen.
He made one start for Triple-A Norfolk upon returning to the club, allowing four runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings. Willis went 0-3 with an 8.53 ERA in four total appearances for the Tides, including eight runs (six earned) and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked eight and struck out six.
Willis won Rookie of the Year honors with the Florida Marlins after going 14-10 in 2003 and two seasons later he went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA and finished second in Cy Young voting. But then Willis’ career took a downturn, as his ERA shot up to 5.17 in ’07 and never came back down. He struggled with the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds, the latter which marked his last appearance in the big leagues in 2011.
Willis was released by the Philadelphia Phillies in Spring Training before being signed to a Minor League deal by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette.