SAN FRANCISCO -- It’s been a decade since Dontrelle Willis was a rookie sensation and two years since he’s thrown a pitch in the big leagues.
But the Giants will give him one more shot at a comeback.
I’ve confirmed that Willis and the Giants reached agreement on a minor league contract on Friday, as it was first reported by John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. This is actually Willis’ second stint with the Giants; he signed a minor league contract with them in July, 2010, and made five relief appearances for Triple-A Fresno before being granted his release a few months later.
The Giants believe Willis could be useful as a starter or in relief, but he won’t be a candidate to make the big league club. In fact, Willis probably won’t receive an invitation to major league camp this spring, instead reporting and working out on the minor league side as he attempts to restart his career and find a delivery he can repeat.
Willis, who turns 32 on Sunday, began last season with the independent Long Island Ducks and showed enough promise to earn a contract with the Angels, where he went 2-1 with a 6.43 ERA in five games (four starts) for their Triple-A club.
An East Bay product who graduated from Encinal High in Alameda, Willis took the league by storm with his high-kicking delivery in 2003 when he won the NL Rookie of the Year award while with the Florida Marlins; in 2005, he finished second in the Cy Young balloting after winning 22 games with a career-best 2.63 ERA.
The Giants plan to release their list of non-roster invitees on Monday.
As for the biggest pitcher still on the market, Masahiro Tanaka, the Giants do not plan to be involved in the bidding for him. It was reported Friday by USA Today that the Dodgers plan to make an aggressive offer and won’t be outbid for Tanaka’s services.