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02/14/11 11:45 AM EST

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."

D-backs' Hudson healthy for spring

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Daniel Hudson admits he was a little nervous the first time he threw a baseball in January.

The D-backs right-hander was scratched from his final start of the 2010 season after straining a tendon in his right middle finger. Hudson saw hand specialist Don Sheridan in November and was told to keep resting it.

Finally just after Jan. 1, Hudson started playing catch.

"I was definitely nervous, but after the first couple of tosses when I let it go a little bit and it felt good and I said, 'Alright, we're good to go,'" Hudson said.

Hudson said Sheridan told him Sunday after his physical that the finger looked great and he was under no restrictions this spring.

"It was a freak thing and there's not much you can do to strengthen that stuff up," Hudson said referring to the A4 pulley flexor tendon. "There's not much you can do to prevent it. Hopefully I don't have a little flare up, but it should be fine. I've thrown a few bullpens and it felt great, which really put my mind at ease because I was a little nervous."

That Hudson is healthy is certainly good news for the D-backs, who are counting on him to be a big part of their rotation. Hudson was 7-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 11 starts after being acquired from the White Sox prior to the 2010 Trade Deadline.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.