GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Pitcher Dontrelle Willis was back in camp after he missed the Reds' first workout for pitchers and catchers on Wednesday when his wife gave birth. Willis welcomed a baby girl and said all went well.
Reds manager Dusty Baker has a connection with Willis through his wife, who grew up around Willis' mother and aunt in San Francisco and knew the left-handed pitcher when he was little.
"My wife said he didn't talk much. Well, he's talking now," Baker said.
The Reds signed Willis, a former All-Star starter, to a Minor League contract in November to see if he can make the club as a reliever. Baker got a recommendation from friend and former Major League pitcher Ray Burris, who works for the Tigers. That was despite Willis struggling mightily in Detroit while playing under a three-year, $29 million contract. He posted a 6.86 ERA from 2008-10 and missed some time with what that club termed an anxiety disorder.
"There's nothing wrong with him physically. There's nothing wrong with him mentally as other people want to think," Baker said. "He just needs somebody to believe in him and give him an opportunity. That's what I've been best at in my career is giving guys the opportunity to excel without bringing their past into the present, even though I'm aware of what their past is."