CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Judging by the reviews of scouts this spring, Dontrelle Willis won't have an easy road back to the majors.
Willis, realesed a couple days ago by the Phillies, was throwing just 82-87 mph, according to one GM. Another GM said his team's scouts saw signs of the "yips'' re-entering the picture for Willis, who has tried comebacks with four different teams since first developing severe control troubles a few years ago.
He's only won four games since 2008, but he's given a lot of chances because of his young age (he's still only 30) and the potential some still have seen. He was 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA with the Reds last year but he limited lefthanded batters to a .127 average. Several teams seek a lefthanded reliever, so it's still possible he could make it back. But it won't be easy.
Philly didn't need to see too much, apparently. In 2 2/3 innings this spring, Willis allowed five earned runs, walking four and striking out zero. He pumped his fist after retiring his final batter as a Phillie, but was gone the next day. Willis' often peppy personality has been a plus at times, but one Phillies person said he didn't really fit into the Phillies' businesslike clubhouse.
It'll be interesting to see if any team thinks it can get something more worthwhile out of the pitcher won helped the Marlins to a World Series title as a rookie in 202, then went 22-5 to finish second in Cy Young balloting two years later.
He's hung on after looking at one point like he'd never find the plate again to engineer a few comebacks. But the odds may be against him making it back to the majors at this point.