Heilman 'awesome' as he strives for rotation

Heilman 'awesome' as he strives for rotation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Aaron Heilman is not kidding around when he says he wants to win a job in the starting rotation rather than the bullpen, where he's been for the last five seasons.

The D-backs right-hander tossed another three scoreless innings Wednesday afternoon at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, giving him five this spring.

"Heilman was awesome," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said after his split squad's 5-3 win over the Mariners. "He was pounding the zone. He's certainly going for it."

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Heilman did not allow a hit and struck out one.

The reason Heilman chose to re-sign with the D-backs during the offseason was the promise that he could compete for a rotation spot. As it stands right now, Heilman, Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright and Zach Duke are battling for the final two spots.

"It's going to be difficult," Heilman said. "We've got a lot of great pitchers here in camp. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I feel like I've got a legitimate shot and that's all I ever ask for. We'll see how everything pans out at the end of this spring, but all you can do is go out there and compete and leave it all out there on the field."

If he does not make the rotation, Heilman could easily slide back into the bullpen, where he has built a reputation as a workhorse. Heilman, whose last start came on May 15, 2005, is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball to appear in at least 70 games in each of the last five seasons.