When closer Tom Gordon got injured right before the season started in 2002, the Chicago Cubs got desperate for a replacement. They made a trade with the Florida Marlins for their closer Antonio Alfonseca and Starting Pitcher Matt Clement. Going to the Marlins, as a throw in, in that deal, was Dontrelle Willis. Now, in Spring Training 2013, Willis is back with the Cubs, as a non roster invitee, and looking to resurrect his career. After joining the Marlins, Willis made his MLB debut on May 9, 2003. From there he had a season that nobody saw coming. Willis, with his unique pitching style and very quirky deliver, won the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year. He went 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA, and helped the Marlins win the World Series Title. For the next few years, Willis became one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
Long story short, since then Willis has been terrible, bouncing around the league landing with the Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, and Baltimore Orioles. He has been spending more time in the minor leagues than in the majors. At one time, it looked like the Cubs made a serious mistake trading Willis, but now he is completely irrelevant.
Back where it all started, Dontrelle Willis is back in camp with the team that drafted him. While it seems very unlikely that he makes the team, the Cubs only have one left handed pitcher who is a shoe-in for the bullpen, James Russell. With a good Spring Training, at only 31 years old, I could see Willis and his quirky delivery finding a spot in the big leagues at some point this year. It would be nice to see the D-Train get his career on track in Chicago, where it all started.