CLEARWATER, Fla. Dontrelle Willis bid to win a spot in the Phillies bullpen is off to a poor start.
The lefthander has struggled on the mound and is also nursing a sore arm.
Well get him checked out by our trainers and see how he responds, pitching coach Rich Dubee said after the lefthanders rocky outing against Houston on Wednesday.
Willis was only able to record two outs in the sixth inning. He faced seven batters, allowed three hits, two walks and four runs. Dubee removed Willis after 33 pitches. The pitcher flexed his left forearm as if to indicate there was a problem as he walked from the mound.
Dubee sounded perturbed as he talked about Willis after the game, a 10-3 loss.
He had some discomfort Tuesday but he told the trainers he felt OK today. Thats why he was out there, Dubee said. We ask for honesty from our pitchers. If a guy comes in and says hes ready to go, we take his word for it.
This was in his forearm. Before was in his biceps. Thats why we have trainers. They will evaluate him.
Willis, 30, is trying to make the transition to reliever after spending his entire career as a starter. He has been plagued by control issues in recent seasons and that problem has come to the fore in his first two spring outings with the Phillies. Willis allowed two hits, a walk and a run in his first appearance on Saturday. He threw 26 pitches in that inning of work.
Willis is on a non-guaranteed contract so it is imperative that he impress team officials to win a spot on the team. Hes not off to a good start and its unclear when he will get back on the mound.
Phillies officials are on the lookout for a second lefty to pair with Antonio Bastardo in their bullpen. In addition to Willis, the Phils have several other lefty relievers in camp, including Joe Savery, Jeremy Horst, David Purcey and Jake Diekman.
While it would be ideal to have a second lefty, Dubee said it was not imperative.
I dont see a reason to have a second lefty if hes not better than the next righty, Dubee said. I dont care if its a lefty or a righty, whos the most effective guy?