Results tagged ‘ Dontrelle Willis ’

3/30 Simpson, Brenly released

The Cubs released pitcher Hayden Simpson and catcher Michael Brenly from their Minor League camp. Simpson, the 16th pick taken overall, was the Cubs’ first-round Draft pick in 2010, but contracted mononucleosis shortly after he signed. The right-hander, who turns 24 on May 20, made 30 starts in 56 Minor League appearances from 2011-12, getting as far as High-A Daytona last year. Overall he went 5-17 with a 6.42 ERA, 120 strikeouts and 89 walks in 161 1/3 innings. He posted an ERA of at least 5.72 at each level along the way.

The Cubs also released Brenly, the son of former team broadcaster Bob Brenly. The younger Brenly, 26, hit .227 with six home runs and 28 RBIs for Double-A Tennessee last season, his fifth since the organization took him the 43rd round of the ‘05 Draft. Bob Brenly left the Cubs this offseason to broadcast games for the D-backs, the team he managed to the 2001 World Series title.

Other Minor League players released include Brett Wallach, Casey Harman and Joseph Zeller.

The Cubs also released Dontrelle Willis, who signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs in January. He was trying to comeback after “retiring” last July. The 2003 National League Rookie of the Year made one Cactus League appearance on Feb. 25 against the Dodgers. He issued a walk, then exited with tightness in his left shoulder while facing the next batter. Originally an eighth-round pick by the Cubs in 2000, Willis won 46 games with a 3.27 ERA for the Marlins from 2003-05 but has struggled with injuries and poor performance in recent years. He last pitched in the Majors in ‘11, when he made 13 starts for the Reds, posting a 5.00 ERA.

— Carrie Muskat

2/25 D-Train: “It’s frustrating”

The D-Train was back with the Cubs for seven pitches.

Dontrelle Willis, whom the Cubs’ selected in the 2000 Draft and is now in the team’s Minor League camp trying to come back, started the eighth inning Monday against the Dodgers with the game tied at 6. He got ahead, 0-2, to Nick Evans, but felt his left shoulder tighten. Willis threw four straight balls to walk Evans, then threw another ball before Cubs athletic trainer Ed Halbur went to the mound to check on the pitcher. Willis then exited.

“It’s frustrating,” Willis said. “I worked real hard to get back and finally get in a groove and this happens. I’ll overcome it. I’ve done it before. Just go back to the drawing board.”

Willis was selected in the eighth round in 2000, but the Cubs dealt him to the Marlins in March 2002 in a six-player deal in which Chicago got Antonio Alfonseca. He won 14 games and National League Rookie of the Year in 2003. Now 31, Willis also has played for the Marlins, Tigers, Diamondbacks and Reds. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2011.

He was an extra on the Cubs travel roster and the seventh pitcher in Monday’s game. The Cubs needed extra arms after starter Carlos Villanueva failed to finish the first, reaching his pitch count after five batters.

Willis ended up being the pitcher of record and took the loss as Evans scored to lead the Dodgers to a 7-6 win. The lefty will be re-evaluated on Tuesday at Fitch Park. He said he’s had this fatigue problem before.

“I’ve just got to do a better job doing the maintenance of keeping my shoulder and arm strength up,” Willis said. “It’s not so much the lifting and stuff but doing things to keep my shoulder strong. It’s just frustrating because I finally get a chance and hit the ground running. If guys can overcome ACL tears, I’ll overcome this and come back.

“I’m just frustrated today,” he said, sitting in a corner of the visitor’s clubhouse at Camelback Ranch. “I really wanted to play and mix it up. It’s early so hopefully I have enough time to come back.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/25 Dodgers 7, Cubs 6

Darnell McDonald hit a three-run homer in the third and Welington Castillo followed with a solo shot, Nate Schierholtz belted a solo home run and Darwin Barney added a RBI double Monday but it wasn’t enough as the Cubs lost 7-6 to the Dodgers on Monday at Camelback Ranch.

Carlos Villanueva’s Cubs debut lasted five batters. He battled Dee Gordon in a 16-pitch at-bat, and eventually struck him out. Villanueva then walked the next two batters and one out later, Nick Punto hit a two-run single to tie the game. Villanueva was then lifted.

Villanueva reached his pitch count limit before the first inning ended, mainly because of a 16-pitch at-bat by Dee Gordon leading off for the Dodgers. The Cubs needed Minor Leaguer Brian Schlitter, 27, of Maine South High School, to pitch one inning, and then Dontrelle Willis entered in the eighth. The one-time Cubs draft pick who is in the Minor League camp, walked the first batter, Nick Evans, and he eventually scored the game-winning run. Willis had to leave after throwing seven pitches because of fatigue in his left shoulder. He ended up with the loss.

— Carrie Muskat

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

2/23 Cubs 11, Angels 2

Luis Valbuena led off the second inning with a home run, Junior Lake added a solo shot, and the Cubs scored five runs in the third to post a 11-2 victory Saturday over the Angels in the Cactus League opener in Tempe. Logan Watkins tripled to open the third and scored two outs later on Scott Hairston’s single. Brett Jackson hit his second triple of the game, driving in two, and Welington Castillo and Brent Lillibridge each hit RBI singles.

Lefty Travis Wood gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out two in two innings in his first start. Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon gave up one hit in one inning in his Cubs debut. Dontrelle Willis, who is in the Cubs’ Minor League mini camp and has not pitched in the big leagues since 2011, was on the travel squad, but did not pitch.

— Carrie Muskat

1/10 Bogusevic, Lillibridge headline NRI list

The Cubs announced some of their non-roster invitees, including Brian Bogusevic, Brent Lillibridge and Darnell McDonald. The players received an invite to the big league Spring Training camp. The list includes Bogusevic, 28, an Oak Lawn native, who attended De La Salle Institute in Chicago. A left-handed hitter, he batted .203 with seven home runs, nine doubles and 28 RBIs in 146 games last season with the Astros.

McDonald, 34, is a former first-round pick, who has played for the Orioles, Twins, Reds, Red Sox and Yankees since 2004. A right-handed hitter, he batted .205 combined for the Red Sox and Yankees last season. Another outfielder invited include Johermyn Chavez, 23, who has not played above the Double-A level. He batted .232 in 75 games with the Mariners’ Jackson team last season.

Lillibridge, 29, has played for the Braves, White Sox, Red Sox and Indians, and posted a .213 average over five seasons. Last season, the infielder was dealt twice. He opened the season with the White Sox, and was traded to the Red Sox in the Kevin Youkilis deal, then dealt one month later to the Indians for Jose De La Torre. In four seasons with the White Sox, Lillibridge batted .217. He is a versatile player, and has played all positions except catcher.

The Cubs also invited infielder Alberto Gonzalez, 29, who has played for the Yankees, Nationals, Padres and Rangers. Last season, he batted .241 in 24 games with Texas.

Edwin Maysonet, 31, who batted .250 in 30 games with the Brewers last season, also received an invite, as did first baseman/outfielder Brad Nelson, 30, who has not played in the big leagues since 2009 with the Brewers. A fourth-round pick by the Brewers in 2001, he spent all of 2012 at the Rangers’ Triple-A Round Rock team, batting .279 with 24 home runs and 81 RBIs in 132 games.

Catcher J.C. Boscan, 33, who has spent 16 seasons in the Minor Leagues, also will be in Mesa. Last season, he batted .189 for the Braves’ Triple-A Gwinnett team.

The Cubs also invited eight pitchers, including right-handers Andrew Carpenter, Jaye Chapman, Dayan Diaz, Jensen Lewis, Blake Parker, Zack Putnam and Cory Wade, and lefty Hisanori Takahashi. Carpenter, 27, has appeared in 23 Major League games over five seasons with the Phillies, Padres and Blue Jays. The Cubs acquired Chapman, 25, from the Braves last July in the Paul Maholm deal, and he appeared in 14 games. Parker, 27, was selected by the Cubs’ in the 16th round of the 2006 Draft, and opened last year at Triple-A Iowa. He was promoted to the big league team in mid May, but appeared in seven games before he was shutdown with a right elbow injury. Putnam, 25, has compiled a 3.90 ERA over 171 games in five Minor League seasons with the Indians and Rockies, while Lewis, 28, has a 3.32 ERA in 196 games over eight seasons in the Indians’ Minor League system. Takahashi, 37, has a 14-12 record, 3.97 ERA in 165 games (12 starts) for the Mets, Angels and Pirates. He pitched for the Yomiuri Giants before coming to the U.S. Major Leagues in 2010.

The Cubs did sign Dontrelle Willis, but he received a Minor League deal, and will be in the team’s Minor League camp. Willis, who turns 31 on Saturday, has pitched for the Marlins, Tigers, Diamondbacks, and Reds, compiling a 72-69 record and 4.17 ERA over nine seasons. He was on the World Series champion Marlins team in 2003, and won National League Rookie of the Year honors that year, posting a 14-6 record and 3.30. He finished second in the Cy Young balloting in 2005 when he won 22 games.

— Carrie Muskat

1/5 Report: Willis back with Cubs

Dontrelle Willis apparently is back with the Cubs. According to Jon Heyman of and MLB Network, Willis has signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs. Heyman reported the left-hander was invited to the Minor League camp, but may get some Cactus League innings, depending on how he does. The Cubs selected Willis in the eighth round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, and then included him in a trade to the Marlins in March 2002 for Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement.

Willis, who turns 31 on Jan. 12, also has pitched for the Tigers, Diamondbacks, and Reds, compiling a 72-69 record and 4.17 ERA over nine seasons. He was on the World Series champion Marlins team in 2003, and won National League Rookie of the Year honors that year, posting a 14-6 record and 3.30. He finished second in the Cy Young balloting in 2005 when he won 22 games. But Willis seemed to lose his touch after he was dealt to the Tigers in December 2007 along with Miguel Cabrera, and won four games out of 40 starts over the next four seasons.

In March 2012, he signed with the Orioles but voluntarily retired on July 2. He made three relief appearances in April for Triple-A Norfolk, then reportedly left in a dispute over his role as a reliever. He returned to make one start for the Minor League team on June 28, going 2 2/3 innings, before announcing his retirement.

On Friday, Willis made his return public on his Twitter account, @D_Train35. He tweeted: “Thanks For The Cubs Givin Me Another Opportunity To Keep Playin Ball … I’m Gonna Give It My All Hopefully Have Another Blessed Year.” Willis said he’s been working hard this offseason to get in shape “after a couple tough years,” and says “I’m Ready To Compete 100% In ’13 N Be A Bulldog Again.”

— Carrie Muskat