2003 World Series champion signs with Ducks

(Central Islip, N.Y., April 5, 2013) – The Atlantic League champion Long Island Ducks today announced the signing of pitcher Dontrelle Willis. The nine-year Major League veteran will begin his first season with the Ducks and in independent baseball.

“Dontrelle has had a great deal of success at the Major League level,” says Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff. “We are eager to add him to our pitching staff and excited to have him join the Atlantic League.”

Willis has pitched for the Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds, combining for a career record of 72-69 with a 4.17 ERA and 896 strikeouts in 205 games (202 starts). The southpaw’s best season came in 2005 with the Marlins when he posted a 22-10 record with a 2.63 ERA, seven complete games and five shutouts in 34 starts. For his efforts, he finished second in the National League Cy Young Award voting behind Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The two-time All-Star earned the NL Rookie of the Year Award as a member of the World Series champion Marlins in 2003 after compiling a 14-6 record with a 3.30 ERA, two complete game shutouts and 142 strikeouts in 27 starts. He last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2011 as a member of the Reds, making 13 starts and striking out 57 batters in 75 and two-thirds innings. A native of California, the 31-year-old spent the 2012 season with Norfolk (AAA, Orioles). Willis was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the eighth round of the 2000 amateur draft.

In additional roster transactions, the Ducks have signed catcher Ralph Henriquez and utility infielder Gabe Suarez. The team has also invited left-handed pitcher Rusty Jones, outfielder Matt Fleishman and catcher George Carroll to Spring Training.

The Long Island Ducks are members of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and play their home games at Bethpage Ballpark. The Ducks begin their defense of the Atlantic League Championship on April 18 at the Sugar Land Skeeters. Opening Day at Bethpage Ballpark is April 26 as the Ducks host the Skeeters at 7:05 p.m. For further information, call (631) 940-DUCK or visit www.liducks.com.