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Willis leaves team without permission; Duquette still wants him for pen

Dontrelle Willis' interesting career has taken another interesting turn, as he has left the Orioles' Triple-A Norfolk team without permission and is at least temporarily on the restricted list. The Orioles still want Willis to work as a reliever and would welcome him back, should he return.

The Orioles gave no official reason Sunday for why he was placed on the restricted list, but Duquette to confirmed Willis left the team without permission following a difference of opinion about whether he should start or relieve.

"He just left,'' said Duquette when confronted with the information from other sources.

Duquette said he is hopeful Willis returns soon because the team believes he can be a successful reliever. Many scouts say Willis' success against left-handed hitters makes him a natural for a lefty relief role. Duquette said they explained their plan to use him as a reliever upon signing him to a minor-league deal but when they asked him to "piggyback'' (or follow) a starter in Triple-A Norfolk to get innings, Willis stated his preference was to go to extended spring training to work on becoming a starter again.

Willis' agent Matt Sosnick agreed that there was a difference of a opinion and said Willis had asked for his release. Willis was released in spring by the Phillies.

Duquette said they don't want to release Willis because they believe he can help them in the bullpen.

"I just think he needs a little more experience doing it,'' Duquette said. "All we wanted him to do is pitch, and pitch in competition.''

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