Giants ink Willis to Minor League deal

Giants ink Willis to Minor League deal

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the midst of a year in which he had already been designated for assignment by two teams before the All-Star break, Dontrelle Willis was ready to sit out the remainder of the 2010 season.

Then, the Giants came calling -- along with the chance to work with Giants vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow -- and Willis, an Oakland native, decided to give the 2010 season one more shot.

On Thursday, the Giants announced they had signed Willis to a Minor League contract Wednesday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed for the pro-rated Major League minimum of $400,000, while he is still owed $12 million as part of the final year of a three-year, $29 million deal he signed with Detroit prior to the 2008 season.

Willis will report to Rookie-level Arizona on Monday to strengthen his arm before throwing at Triple-A Fresno.

"He got derailed there a little bit with Detroit and Arizona, but this is too good of an arm to give up on," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's not giving up and that's what's important. He still wants to pitch and he's a guy we can use in different ways."

In his eight-year career, Willis is 71-63 with a 4.12 ERA, but has struggled since leading the league with 22 wins in 2005. He was traded to Detroit prior to the 2008 season, but injuries and an anxiety disorder limited him to fewer than 10 games in 2008 and 2009.

Earlier this season, the Tigers traded Willis to Arizona, where he went 1-1 with a 6.85 ERA in six games (five starts), before the D-backs designated him for assignment on July 4 and released him two days later.

Even with those struggles, Matt Sosnick, Willis' agent, said several teams were interested in the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year. Still, Willis wanted to wait and reassess his prospects at the end of the season, but Sosnick said the opportunity to work with Tidrow was too good to pass up.

"The fact that Dick Tidrow is going to work with him personally really was the deciding factor for us," Sosnick said.