Floyd, Madson make Phils' rotation
Franklin OK with move to 'pen, will assume Madson's role
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The golden arm made the rotation and the rubber arm went to the bullpen.These moves, manager Charlie Manuel feels, give his pitching staff legs. Manuel made official on Thursday what had been speculated for the past 24 hours: Gavin Floyd and Ryan Madson earned the final two spots in the rotation, and Ryan Franklin will work the seventh inning out of the bullpen. It's a major victory for Floyd, who was barely a blip on the radar when camp started. The right-hander was coming off a rough season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was viewed as someone in need of reconstructing. Throw to the mitt. Don't worry about mechanics. Don't think, just throw. Relax. It worked. Floyd dazzled in his final three starts, including six innings of one-run ball against Cleveland on Monday. Not bad for a guy who was nearly one of the early cuts of the spring. "He's earned it and can help us," Manuel said. "He's getting a chance. And he can get [beat up] and still get another chance. He's going to hold his own. I think he's going to be pretty good. He's getting a good chance to establish himself in the Major Leagues." Despite the good news, Manuel couldn't resist playing with Floyd's head a tad. The skipper tried to sound serious in telling the rookie he was being sent to Scranton, but he couldn't maintain the act. "Charlie said, '[pitching coach Rich Dubee] and I need to talk to you' in a serious manner. It made me nervous. Charlie said I'd get plenty of starts in the Minors. I was like, 'What's going on?'" Manuel tried the same tactic with Madson by telling him he was returning to the bullpen. Manuel's facade didn't last long there, either. Madson pitched incredibly well for the Phils this spring, and cemented his case on Tuesday night against the Yankees -- though indications were that he was safe long before that start.
Madson admitted that he was relieved to be in the rotation, but added that it's "only halfway over. Now I have to pitch well all year long. I hope I can show them they did make the right decision. There's plenty of guys willing to step up and take my spot."The first guy in line will be Franklin, who drew the short straw through no fault of his own. The veteran had a solid spring (3.57 ERA over 17 2/3 innings), but will be used in crucial seventh-inning spots -- essentially filling the role Madson held for the past two years. "If the game is way up or way down, he can pretty much put on his loafers," Dubee said. "He's going to be a big piece in tight games to bridge the gap between the starters, Arthur [Rhodes] and Tom [Gordon]." "His stuff will play big for one or two innings in the bullpen," said Manuel. "He makes our bullpen strong. Right now, I think we have the best guys in their roles. To me, Franklin is the guy with the rubber arm. He can bounce back. I explained it real good to him." Though not an ideal situation, Franklin embraced the role of "seventh-inning closer." "I was disappointed, but I'm more of a team guy," Franklin said. "I believe in myself that I can do well in any role. My arm has felt great the last three years. I really don't know how it's going to affect me. I just have to get back to how I prepare in the bullpen." Franklin has four pitches he can throw for strikes, and doesn't plan to reduce his inventory for bullpen work. He concedes that he might throw harder since he can give his maximum effort each time out. The reality for Franklin was that he wasn't surprised to hear Manuel's idea for the pitching staff, and he knows that team goals outweigh the individual desires. He was on a Seattle team that won 116 games in 2001. Franklin knew he might be asked to shift when he signed his contract, but he chose Philadelphia over cities where he would've been a lock for the rotation. "I had a great spring, but I learned anything can happen," Franklin said. "I've never been a No. 1 or 2 guy, and those guys are locked in. These things happen. Winning is why I came here. These guys are right there. I think we have a better team than they had last year, in all aspects."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.