Heilman returns to D-backs with eye on rotation

Heilman returns to D-backs with eye on rotation

Heilman returns to D-backs with eye on rotation
PHOENIX -- Aaron Heilman will be back in an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform in 2011, but he may not return to the bullpen.

The right-hander, who was signed to a one-year deal on Tuesday, will compete for a spot in the starting rotation after pitching in relief for the past five seasons. In 2010, he appeared in 70 games for the D-backs and was 5-8 with six saves and a 4.50 ERA.

In addition, the club also officially announced the signing of utility man Willie Bloomquist.

Heilman is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball to appear in at least 70 games for the past five seasons, but he began his career with the Mets in 2003 as a starter and has long wanted to return to that role.

The 32-year-old's last start was May 15, 2005, against the Cardinals.

The D-backs' rotation currently consists of Joe Saunders, Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy, Barry Enright and Zach Duke. If Heilman is unable to win a starting job during the spring, he would likely head back to the bullpen.

Bloomquist, 33, played for both the Royals and Reds in 2010, hitting a combined .267 with 10 doubles, three homers and 17 RBIs.

One of new GM Kevin Towers goals this offseason was to improve the team's bench by adding veteran players. To that end, he has signed catcher Henry Blanco, infielder Geoff Blum and now Bloomquist.

Bloomquist has played every position on the field other than pitcher and catcher during a nine-year big league career.

To make room for Heilman and Bloomquist on the 40-man roster, the team designated right-hander Daniel Stange and Brian Sweeney for assignment.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.