Willis, 54, joins the organization with 11 seasons of experience as a major league pitching coach between the Cleveland Indians (2003-09) and Seattle Mariners (August 2010-13). This year, he served as pitching coach for the Indians' Triple-A Columbus Clippers before joining the Red Sox' staff.
In his career as a big league pitching coach, Willis, who will wear No. 54, has worked with Cy Young Award winners CC Sabathia (2007) and Cliff Lee (2008) in Cleveland, and Felix Hernandez (2010) in Seattle.
During his seven-year stint with the Indians from 2003-09, Cleveland walked the third-fewest batters in the AL (3,374) and induced the second-most ground ball double plays (991). His 2005 Indians led the AL with a 3.61 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP, while the 2007 club ranked third in ERA (4.05) and finished tied with the Red Sox for the best record in baseball (96-66) before losing to Boston in a seven-game American League Championship Series.
Willis began the 2010 season as the Mariners' minor league pitching coordinator, and on August 9 of that year joined Seattle's major league staff, where he remained as pitching coach through 2013. From 2010-12, Seattle finished third (3.93), sixth (3.90), and fourth (3.76) in ERA among AL teams.
As a player, the native of Danville, VA pitched on two teams that went on to win the World Series in the 1984 Detroit Tigers and the 1991 Minnesota Twins. He followed a nine-year major league playing career with 13 consecutive seasons as a coach in the Indians organization from 1997-2009, working his way up from Short-A Watertown (1997) and Rookie-level Burlington (1998) to Single-A Columbus (1999), Double-A Akron (2000), and then Triple-A Buffalo (2001-02). In 2003, he took over as the club's major league pitching coach.
Willis, who was with Cleveland for the entirety of Farrell's stint as the organization's Director of Player Development from November 2001-2006, rejoined the Indians as a special assistant to baseball operations in 2014. He returned to duties as a pitching coach for Triple-A Columbus at the start of this season.
A right-hander, he was selected by Detroit in the 23rd round of the 1983 June Draft out of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and went on to go 22-16 with 13 saves and a 4.25 ERA (184 ER/390.0 IP) in 267 major league games (two starts) over parts of nine seasons between the Tigers (1984), Cincinnati Reds (1984-86), Chicago White Sox (1988), and Twins (1991-95). He posted career bests in wins (8-3) and ERA (2.63) over 40 games with the 1991 Twins, and then helped Minnesota to that year's World Series title with a 2.92 ERA (4 ER/12.1 IP) over seven relief appearances in the postseason.