Former major league pitching star Dontrelle Willis retires

Left-hander Dontrelle Willis, a former rookie of the year and 22-game winner, has decided to retire following a rocky stretch with Baltimore's top farm club.
Dontrelle Willis, seen in 2007, couldn't come close to achieving the success he had in Florida despite several chances with other clubs. (J. Pat Carter/Associated Press)

Left-hander Dontrelle Willis is retiring following a rocky stretch with Baltimore's top farm club.

Willis was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2003 with the Marlins and quickly became one of baseball's most popular players. But the big left-hander has struggled since he won 22 games seven years ago and was second in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

"[It's] kind of sad in a way because of how good he was. I look at it from the game of baseball," manager Buck Showalter said before Baltimore faced Seattle on Monday night. "We'll see what the future holds for him. I appreciate him giving it a shot with us."

Willis won just 26 games and had 5.02 ERA over his final six seasons in the majors pitching for Florida, Detroit, Arizona and Cincinnati. His final appearance in the majors came on Sept. 25, 2011, when he beat Pittsburgh 5-4 for his only victory of the 2011 season with the Reds.

Willis was cut by Philadelphia during spring training and later agreed to a minor league deal with the Orioles. He made just four appearances for Triple-A Norfolk, going 0-3 with an 8.53 ERA.

The 30-year-old Willis had a 72-69 career record with a 4.17 ERA. He was also one of baseball's best hitting pitchers during his time in the majors, batting .244 with nine homers and 39 RBIs.