2/24 Willis back where he started

Dontrelle Willis was in the Cubs clubhouse before Sunday’s game. He’s in the Minor League camp, hoping to make a comeback with the team that originally selected him in the eighth round of the 2000 Draft.

“My arm feels good, the work’s been good,” Willis said. “I’ve been busting my butt to get back in baseball shape. I’m feeling good. The organization has welcomed me back with open arms. It feels good to come full circle and be on the same field I got drafted on 13 years ago.”

There aren’t many people left from then. Carlos Marmol is still with the Cubs, and he was Willis’ catcher in Rookie ball in Arizona.

“He could throw down to second — it was his hitting,” Willis said of Marmol. “I tell my wife, I remember the stories and being on the field over there. It was all about getting ready for the big leagues. I know people are still a little mad at me about [being with the Marlins and] beating the Cubs but hopefully we can bring a ring to the North Side.”

He last pitched in the big leagues in 2011 with the Reds, and spent last season with the Orioles’ Triple-A team. Willis knows he’s a long shot.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time, and I know that sounds so cliche and a lot of people say that but I really count my blessings, one day at a time,” he said. “I know the talent level around here and I know I can help. It’s about the opportunity. Whenever you get an opportunity, you have to make the best of it. This team is going to be good. I expect a lot, and I expect a lot out of myself.”

— Carrie Muskat

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