I’m not sure if anyone really believes that Dontrelle Willis is going to play for the Reds this year, but it is clear that Willis is going to be one of the big subplots to Cincinnati’s spring camp. Mark Sheldon gets the (D-)train rolling* with this piece at MLB.com:

Willis makes his offseason home in Scottsdale, Ariz., the same city in which Reds pitching coach Bryan Price resides. They have been working together in throwing sessions, and Price has been impressed with the results.

“I like what I see,” Price said. “It’s tough to evaluate just watching bullpens, but he is a dynamite young guy with a good approach. He’s a unifying type of guy that brings people together with his great personality.”

Willis, 29, signed a Minor League contract with the Reds in November that came with an invite to camp as a non-roster player but no promises. Once one of the premier pitchers of the National League with the Marlins, he earned the 2003 Rookie of the Year Award with 14 victories. Florida won the World Series that season. His best year came in 2005, when he went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA.

Talk about damning with faint praise: a dynamite young guy…a good approach…a unifying type of guy…great personality. Sounds like your buddy’s description of that blind date he tried to set up for you.

In all fairness, Price was more complimentary later in the article; go read the entire piece. I’m certainly hopeful that Willis can recapture his former glory. The guy was good at one time, and this is the type of signing I like to see from the Reds. He’s still young, he’s had major success in the past, Cincinnati has a great pitching coach — why not see if we can catch lightning in a bottle here.

Of course, Willis has been pretty bad for a while now, and I have very little confidence that we’ll ever see him pitching for the Reds in the regular season. This spring, however…be prepared. We’re going to be bombarded with Dontrelle Willis stories. It’s a perfect subject for beat writers who are desperate for something to write about every day. (I don’t envy those guys.)

What do you think? Will Dontrelle make the cut?

*See what I did there?