Published February 25, 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The latest comeback try by Dontrelle Willis lasted just seven pitches.
Still trying find a flash of his former self, Willis said he hurt his left shoulder Monday in the Chicago Cubs' 7-6 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 2003 NL Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star walked Nick Evans on six pitches in the eighth inning. After throwing ball one to Brian Barden, Willis grabbed his shoulder.
Chicago coaches and trainers visited Willis on the mound and escorted him to the dugout.
"It's a mild setback," said Willis, who signed a minor league contract with the Cubs in January. "Hopefully, it's not serious. It's probably just fatigue."
Willis got a loss to go along with the setback. Evans scored the go-ahead run when Willis' replacement, Jensen Lewis, gave up an RBI single to Omar Luna.
The 31-year-old Willis burst upon the baseball scene in 2003 as a high-kicking, hard-throwing pitcher with the Marlins. He helped them win the World Series that year and was a 22-game winner in 2005.
Willis has never come close to duplicating that early success. He pitched in the majors and minors for five organizations after leaving the Marlins and announced his retirement on July 2, 2012.
Six months later, the Cubs then signed him. But manager Dale Sveum said the team didn't have any lofty expectations.
"We don't have any plans," Sveum said. "He's here to be a backup. He's a minor league player."
The Dodgers won after trailing by four runs after three innings. The Cubs scored six times off Chad Billingsley and Chris Capuano.
Billingsley gave up four straight hits to begin the game, including a leadoff double by Luis Valbuena and a home run to Nate Schierholtz.
"It was just good to be out there," said Billingsley, who underwent rehabilitation for an elbow injury he sustained on Aug. 24. "There was a lot of adrenalin. There's usually a lot of adrenalin, but there was even more this time just because it's been a while."
"On the first day out there, I just concentrated on throwing strikes. I didn't throw all my pitches today. It was just about getting my arm ready," he said.
In the third, Darnell McDonald hit a three-run homer off Capuano and Welington Castillo followed with a home run.
NOTES: Dodgers LF Carl Crawford took batting practice in the morning. "That was good, felt good," said Crawford, who underwent surgery on his left elbow in August before the Boston Red Sox traded him to the Dodgers. "I mean, it was the first time I got to swing in a long time." ... The Dodgers play World Series champion San Francisco on Tuesday. RHP Josh Beckett is scheduled to start for the Dodgers. Tim Lincecum is set to start for the Giants. ... The Cubs face Colorado on Tuesday. Chicago's scheduled starter is RHP Edwin Jackson, 10-11 with Washington last season.