Giants Sign Dontrelle Willis, Hope Homecoming Will Help Troubled Lefty

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Giants Sign Dontrelle Willis, Hope Homecoming Will Help Troubled Lefty
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Alameda native Dontrelle Willis has signed a minor league contract to try to resurrect his career with the San Francisco Giants organization.

The 28-year-old attended Encinal High School, then exploded onto the big league scene as a star left-handed starter for the Florida Marlins. After signing a lucrative, long-term contract, Willis lost his his stuff and his ability to throw strikes.

He went from the Marlins to the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers eventually released Willis, who then signed with and pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona released him and the Giants inked him to a minor league deal after he cleared waivers. The Tigers are responsible for the bulk of the $12 million Willis is owed this season.

Willis will be at the Giants' training facility in Arizona Monday after signing a Triple-A contract.

The Giants will be in no hurry with Willis. He was sent to the minor leagues by the Tigers in 2008 and 2009, but only pitched 28 innings in each stint before returning almost immediately to the big leagues.

The Giants will try to fix mental and mechanical problems that have prevented Willis from having an ERA of under 5.17 since 2006.

"You've got an arm like that, you get him in our system the way we prepare our pitchers, and maybe he'll have some success," vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans told the San Francisco Chronicle. "He's already accomplished a lot. You never know."

Willis won 14 games and a World Series ring with Florida in 2003 then won 22 games in 2005.

Evans spoke to Willis and said, "He has the right attitude. I think he's driven to succeed."

Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at

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