Willis pleased with camp performance

Willis pleased with camp performance

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Left-hander Dontrelle Willis has shown the Reds he will deserve serious consideration to make the bullpen out of camp, especially in the last two of his three spring appearances.

Willis has pitched four perfect innings with four strikeouts in those two games, including two frames against the Royals on Tuesday. In his first relief appearance, against the Indians Feb. 28, he gave up two unearned runs and two hits but was off with his location in one long inning.

"I was pleased with all three of them," Willis said on Wednesday. "The side sessions I've been doing with [pitching coach Bryan Price], that's when you try to work on things. In the game, I try to compete. I didn't warm up very well going into [Tuesday's] game. After a while, you just have to say, 'Hey, let's go out there and battle and try to get some quality outs with what I have.' Sometimes it works out like that, where you get a swing from somebody and zone in."

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Willis was also spectacular in the field in his last game, making one nice play on a roller near the third-base line. He also beat a runner covering first base on a tough bunt play.

The Reds signed Willis to a Minor League contract in November and invited him to camp. Because of his struggles with the Tigers in the past three seasons and the fact that he's never been a reliever, he was a question mark coming into spring. The Reds' bullpen already has two lefty relievers in Aroldis Chapman and Bill Bray, but it could have room for a third southpaw, especially one who can work multiple innings.

Willis is competing for one of the bullpen spots with several pitchers, including Matt Maloney and Sam LeCure.

"I like the way I'm playing and the way I'm working day to day," Willis said. "I feel like I'm efficient. I feel like I'm strong right now. I'm just having fun. This is a great clubhouse. It's a great place for guys like myself to come in and be successful. It's a great ballclub and staff in general. I think we've had nine barbecues already. It's very family oriented and close knit. We all know what's at stake for guys, but we're pulling for each other. That speaks volumes for someone to have your back regardless of what's at stake."