Dontrelle Willis, the exuberant left-hander with the signature leg kick who was once the best young southpaw in baseball, has decided to retire.
Willis was trying to make a comeback with the Orioles, his fifth organization since the beginning of the 2010 season, through a turbulent season at Triple-A Norfolk that included struggles on and off the mound.
The Orioles announced Willis' retirement late Monday afternoon, and a tweet by Willis Monday indicated he had left the game.
"I'm deeply thankful for everything the game has done for me and I will always remember the great people I met along the way as well," Willis tweeted.
The Orioles signed Willis during spring training shortly after he was released by the Phillies and initially planned on using him as a situational left-handed reliever. Willis made just three relief appearances, pitching to a 4.91 ERA before he was abruptly placed on the minor-league restricted list after leaving the team.
That triggered a public rift between the Orioles and Willis, whose agent said he was given permission to leave the team. Eventually, the sides reconciled, and Willis was given the opportunity to pitch as a starter again.
He worked his way back through extended spring training games, but made just one start for the Tides -- on Thursday -- lasting just 2 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on six hits.
Willis retired with a career 72-69 big-league record with a 4.17 ERA. He had his best years with the Marlins, where was the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year and was the 2005 NL Cy Young Award runner up, just 20 points short of winner Chris Carpenter.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun