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03/15/08 8:08 PM ET
Durbin not helping case for bullpen job
Reliever hurts cause with his fourth rough outing of spring
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If J.D. Durbin sealed his fate with his fourth shaky performance of the spring, he knows to look no further than his reflection in the mirror. The right-hander didn't help his pursuit to secure one of two bullpen jobs Saturday, when he surrendered five runs on five hits and two walks in three innings. He allowed home runs to Carlos Gomez and Jason Kubel. Durbin's problem may be more than just physical. "I look in the mirror every day," he said. "I try to find myself more than anybody. I think I lost that fire that burns inside me. I still go out there and compete 100 percent, but I don't have that over-the-top, kick-butt Brett Myers attitude, and that's hurting me." For the spring, Durbin has posted a 10.95 ERA in 12 1/3 Grapefruit League innings. He's allowed 22 hits, seven walks and six home runs. "Every time I go out, I give up three or four runs or five runs," he said. "It's tough to get confident when you're getting your butt kicked every day. There's pressure inside and outside. Me not getting it done is the bottom line." A poor spring last year led to the Twins placing him on waivers at the end of Spring Training, and he wound up playing for four organizations in a 17-day period. He landed in Triple-A Ottawa and pitched strongly at times for the Phillies. Durbin entered camp competing with Rule 5 Draftee Travis Blackley, incumbent Clay Condrey and Fabio Castro for two available bullpen jobs, and he has done nothing but struggle. "The lack of success got me down a little bit," Durbin said. "Physically, I feel phenomenal. I'm sure I'll bounce back, but I don't want it to be too late again." None of the candidates have been particularly impressive. Condrey appears to have an edge for one of the two spots, while the other three fight for the final job. Blackley, the lefty, started strong, but has been hit hard in his past two outings, compiling a 9.45 ERA. He allowed 13 baserunners in 6 2/3 innings, but has whiffed nine. Castro's ERA is 6.00, but he's been typically inconsistent. "The jobs are right there in front of them," manager Charlie Manuel said. "If they don't get 'em, it's their fault. There are chances for guys, and when you go over and tell them, they shouldn't act like 'I did well' or something like that. No, no, no. Be realistic." The competition will be settled by March 31, and Manuel won't stand for excuses. "I'm tired of hearing guys say they did something good when all you have to do is watch the game," he said. "If you have any mirrors in your house, go look in them."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.