Orioles minor league pitcher Dontrelle Willis has reportedly left the club’s Triple-A affliate in Norfolk without the organization’s permission after being placed on the minor league restricted list, but the Orioles appear to have no plans to release the left-hander.
Willis, the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year and 2005 NL Cy Young Award runner-up, was signed by the Orioles in the spring to become a situational left-handed reliever. He had signed with the Phillies in the offseason but was released midway through spring training.
When the Orioles signed Willis, he said he was willing to do anything for the opportunity to get back to the big leagues, including beginning the season in the minors, something Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said was likely in order to give Willis time to get adjusted to the role.
“The role is still the same,” Willis said when he reported to Orioles camp March 21. “So I’m definitely still getting used to coming out of the bullpen, but it seemed like their bullpen was already set for Philadelphia. It’s just another opportunity to go out there with another young, talented team and go out there and show my stuff.”
Willis went on Norfolk’s disabled list with a left forearm strain April 12, but was abruptly placed on the club’s restricted last night.
He left the Tides on Wednesday after a meeting with Duquette, Tides manager Ron Johnson and Tides pitching coach Mike Griffin.
Duquette told CBSSports.com Monday that Willis left the team without permission following a difference of opinion on whether he should be a starter or reliever. Duquette told the website that the organization welcomes Willis' return.