The agent for Orioles minor-leaguer Dontrelle Willis is in the process of filing a grievance against the club, alleging the Orioles told Willis his was given his release but then placed him on the restricted list, preventing him from pursuing other baseball opportunities.
Willis’ agent, Matt Sosnick, said Willis was told he would be given his release by Orioles baseball administration director Tripp Norton on Wednesday. But on Sunday, Willis was placed on the minor-league restricted list.
The Orioles signed Willis, the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year and 2005 NL Cy Young Award runner-up with the Marlins, to a minor-league deal to be a left-handed relief specialist, but at Norfolk Willis wanted the opportunity to start.
That’s where the rift between Willis and the Orioles began, but definitely not where it ends.
“If Dan is willing to throw one of his own employees under the bus and not support somebody internally and it’s over a player like Dontrelle Willis,” Sosnick said, “who not only was given his release from the team, but is a minor league guy with half a year’s worth of time in the last five years who only wants to start, can you imagine how he behaves with someone who can make a difference for him.”
When asked whether the Orioles plan on sticking to their stance and not releasing Willis, Duquette said, “What do you mean sticking with our stand? The guy didn’t show up for work. The guy left work.”
“If Dontrelle wants to pitch, we have a spot for him to pitch,” he added.
When asked about Sosnick’s claim that Norton told Willis he would be released, Duquette said, “No he didn’t.” Norton deferred comment to Duquette.
Sosnick sees it otherwise, and he said he’s initiated contact with Duquette to talk about a resolution since he was placed on the restricted list, but those efforts have been unsuccessful.
“I can not for the life of me figure out why he’s made this the cause of the day,” Sosnick said. “In a normal situation, whether you agree or not, if you have a minor-league coordinator who gives a player a release, the ethical thing to do would be to follow through with the commitment your employee made.
“If you don’t agree with it, you’ve got a bunch of choices,” he added. “The best thing to do would be to talk to the agent or the player and talk it through. The worst thing to do would be not communicate and put the player on the restricted list.”
Willis filing a grievance against the Orioles was first reported by ESPN.com