Chad Durbin's versatility helps Phillies' staff

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - March 22, 2008 The 30-year-old right-hander probably will start the season in the bullpen, but he easily could up in the rotation if there's an injury or Adam Eaton falters.

"I feel like I can help the team however, whether it's starting, middle relief or the seventh inning," Durbin said after pitching three perfect innings against Detroit on Saturday. "If they ask me to do it, I'll do it."

With rain coming down hard, Durbin left after retiring every batter he faced on his former team, so left-hander Travis Blackley could get some work. But the rain didn't let up and the game was canceled. Kenny Rogers started for the Tigers and gave up one run and two hits in three innings.

Durbin's versatility should help the Phillies, who used a team-record 28 pitchers last season. Durbin started 19 games for Detroit and pitched in 17 others out of the bullpen. He finished 8-7 with one save and a 4.72 ERA.

Entering spring training, Durbin was one of several candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation. Though the Phillies haven't officially named the No. 5 starter, it's almost certainly Eaton's job. Eaton is coming off a terrible season, but he's pitched well his last two outings and has a big contract.

"I'm not paid to think," Durbin said. "Next time they put my name on the list, I'll pitch."

Durbin came up as a starter with Kansas City. He started 45 games his first two seasons, going 11-21 with a 5.87 ERA. Overall, Durbin is 25-37 with a 5.75 ERA in 114 games, including 75 starts. He's also pitched for Cleveland and Arizona.

Manager Charlie Manuel is comfortable using Durbin in different spots because he's familiar with any role.

"He's done that before," Manuel said. "He's looked good."

While Durbin is set to travel north with the team, Kris Benson is expected to stay back and continue his recovery from rotator cuff surgery. The right-hander had a minor setback after experiencing some shoulder soreness earlier in the week. He took four days off from throwing, but is scheduled to play catch for the third straight day on Sunday.

"It seems like he's better than a couple days ago," Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "This is just a blip on the radar, but we still feel at some point he's going to help us."

The final two bullpen spots probably will come down to Clay Condrey and left-handers Blackley and Vic Darensbourg. Condrey has an edge for one of the spots. It's unlikely the Phillies will carry 11 pitchers instead of the usual 12.

Notes: The Phillies placed RHP Francisco Rosario (shoulder), RHP Scott Mathieson (elbow) and LHP Mike Zagurski (hamstring) on the disabled list retroactive to March 21.

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