McKeon calls the D-Train ‘special’

MIAMI — For the first time since being traded in 2007, the D-Train rolls back into Sun Life Stadium.

Dontrelle Willis, who still is the Marlins’ all-time leader in pitching victories, arrives in town as a member of the Reds.

The energetic left-hander, however, is not slated to pitch in the three-game series against the Marlins.

Still, his legacy and impact in South Florida is not forgotten.

Willis was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2003, and he helped the organization win the World Series that year.

Marlins manager Jack McKeon considers players like Willis and Juan Pierre, his best friend while with the organization, special.

“I always love to see those guys, Pierre, Dontrelle,” said McKeon, the manager of the ’03 squad. “They are special to me.

“Those two guys, they were workaholics. Some of the guys we have, if they had the work habits of those two guys, they’d be much better than they are now.”

Willis was a Marlin from 2003-07, and he posted a 68-54 record with a 3.78 ERA. In 2005, Willis won 22 games, a club record.

“All I can is, when I had him, he had great work habits, and he was a great competitor,” McKeon said. “I think that he finally went through some periods of adversity, and now he’s found himself again. And he could be back to being successful.”

McKeon notes that a number of current Marlins could have benefited by being around players like Willis, Pierre and others from the championship team.

“Sometimes that is ingrained in you,” McKeon said. “Guys want to be good. He wanted to be good. He didn’t take anything for granted. He didn’t expect anybody to give him anything.

“If you look at him, and not singling out any of our players, but watch him on the mound. He brought life. Some guys, they look like they are going to sleep. With him, he was hopping around. He brought some life. Maybe, that is some guys nature.”

Joe Frisaro

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