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09/10/08 8:48 PM ET
Eaton wants chance to prove himself
Phillies pitcher wants a start, but will likely be used in long relief
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Since returning from the Minor Leagues as a September callup, Adam Eaton has looked forward to proving himself worthy in September. The Phillies don't seem as eager to give him that chance. During a week in which the Phillies have needed three starting pitchers -- due to rotation shifts and tropical storm Hanna -- Eaton has been passed over each time. Manager Charlie Manuel sent struggling right-hander Kyle Kendrick to the mound on Tuesday, and is starting 45-year-old Jamie Moyer on three days' rest on Thursday against Milwaukee. Philadelphia needs another starter on Sunday, and it will likely be either Brett Myers on three days' rest or J.A. Happ. Not Eaton. "Definitely," Eaton said, asked if he was dying to get out there. "Everyone wants to pitch, especially in September when these games mean something. I welcome the opportunity, if that's in the cards." The cards haven't been kind to Eaton, who's done little to justify the $24.5 million contract he signed with the Phillies before the 2007 season. He's posted a 6.10 ERA in 51 appearances and earlier this season, agreed to go to the Minors to regain his form. He was worse there, going a combined 0-5 with a 7.02 ERA in seven starts. Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee both said that Eaton has been considered, though it's likely not very seriously. Manuel said on Sept. 1 that the righty would pitch in long relief. Though he wants the ball, Eaton won't plead his case. If the opportunity finds him, so be it. "I've been a good soldier my whole career," he said. "I'm frustrated. I want to pitch, but at the same time, it's not my place [to say anything]. It's not up to me. Just because I signed a big contract doesn't mean I have any right to anything. Everybody says the NFL is performance based. It's that way in baseball, too. You need to perform to get an opportunity but at the same time you have to be given some opportunity to prove yourself." Removing Eaton's four worst starts -- in which he allowed 26 runs in 15 1/3 innings -- brings his ERA down to 4.22, and he began the season with quality starts in four of his first six outings. "Everybody has to have that thought about what's going on," Eaton said. "Anyone, whether it's Pat [Burrell], me, Jimmy [Rollins] or Pedro [Feliz], anyone in the clubhouse. You want to know what's going on in the future. But the future is today. It's not next year or tomorrow. It's today. Can you win today? It's their job to think about the future and keeping things set up. "I think everyone deserves the chance to compete, regardless of role. Whether my role is to go sit down in the bullpen or be a starting pitcher, it's up to them. Everyone has a role to play."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.