Heilman ready to battle for starting spot

Heilman ready to battle for starting spot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Aaron Heilman has always viewed himself as a starting pitcher.

Whether he is one or not in 2011 will depend on how the next six weeks go for him.

The D-backs veteran right-hander will compete for a spot in the starting rotation after spending the past five seasons in the bullpen. Heilman's last start was May 15, 2005, and he is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball to appear in at least 70 games for the last five seasons.

"They said they'd give me an opportunity to compete for a job, so we'll see how everything plays out," Heilman said. "I feel good, I feel like I'm ready."

With the first three spots in the rotation all but locked up by Joe Saunders, Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, there will be a battle for the fourth and fifth spots between Heilman, Barry Enright, Armando Galarraga and Zach Duke.

Heilman looks like he lost quite a bit of weight during the offseason, but he downplayed it saying he wasn't sure how much he had actually dropped. He did acknowledge that the way he trained in the offseason was different.

"Being a reliever, it's more about bursts and being strong and being able to give it everything you've got for three outs and then you're done," Heilman said. "You don't need a lot of endurance, you need a lot of sprint power. Being a starter it's more of a marathon, more endurance and you have to have your legs under you the whole game. It doesn't do you any good to have your legs under you for the first four innings if you can't get through the fifth. You've got to get your arm and body in shape to go six, seven, eight, nine innings."