How Dontrelle Willis earned respect protecting teammates hit by pitches

Jessica Kleinschmidt
·2 min read

How D-Train got respect by protecting teammates after HBPs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The A’s continue to get hit by pitches -- a lot them. Oakland ranks in the league with their hitters getting plunked 28 times, and Ramón Laureano alone leads the AL with nine HBP this season.

As to why, well -- many factors could be involved, and Oakland hitting coach Darren Bush went over the possibilities not too long ago when the trend became noticeable.

But how does this impact the pitchers?

No, not the opposing pitcher. But the A's pitching staff -- the teammates of the Laureanos of the world.

Former MLB pitchers and current NBC Sports California analysts Dontrelle Willis and Dave Stewart went discussed the mentality during A’s Pregame Live on Tuesday. Willis said he, as the team’s pitcher, felt the responsibility to protect his teammates.

Willis has played with some amazing ballplayers across his nine-year career and said they would have meetings about how to protect some of them.

“For a long time, Miguel Cabrera was hit a lot, and our division was very competitive,” Willis said. “Me and Miguel were very close and we talked about it a lot, and I took it personal to protect him.”

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Willis joked he didn’t have the command Stewart had, but it reminds you that the situation doesn’t stop the moment a player is hit by a pitch.

“For the most part, I had my team’s respect because they knew I was going to go out there and do my best I could to be able to protect them to send a message to the other ball club, ‘You cannot push around our guys,’” Willis said.