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Anderson could be headed to bullpen

By BOB BAUM

AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX (AP) The Arizona Diamondbacks will bring all six of their experienced starting pitchers to spring training this week, with left-hander Brian Anderson likely headed to the bullpen if he isn't traded.

When the Diamondbacks spent nearly $100 million to sign free agents Randy Johnson, Todd Stottlemyre and Armando Reynoso, that left them with six starters for a five-man rotation.

With Andy Benes and the newly re-signed Omar Daal joining the newcomers in the rotation, Anderson is considered a top candidate to be traded, mainly because he is young, a left-hander and one of the game's best control pitchers.

But the Diamondbacks say they are in no hurry to make a deal, and Anderson could provide some much-needed help as a long reliever.

Manager Buck Showalter said one of his first orders of business when pitchers and catchers start workouts Thursday at Tucson will be to sit down with Anderson and make sure he understands what is expected.

"We realize that Brian has pitched well as a starter and as a reliever," Showalter said, "so it gives us the option to do both."

Anderson, one of the most popular players in the Diamondbacks' clubhouse, was 12-13 last year with a 4.33 ERA. He led the National League in fewest walks per nine innings at 1.04. However, he also was tied for the most home runs allowed at 39.

General manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said there has been considerable interest in making a trade for Anderson, but there is a good possibility any deal wouldn't be made until late in spring training or after opening day.

The Diamondbacks would not have a problem keeping Anderson as a reliever and spot starter, as well as for insurance should one of the other starters falter or get hurt.

"We know how valuable he is. We know how valuable he would be to us," Garagiola said. "We also know he could pitch out of our bullpen. For us to entertain any discussions for him it's going to have to be for a player who really makes us significantly better."

Showalter said he also plans a talk with Amaury Telemaco, who was part of the rotation much of last season but is destined for relief duty this year.

Among those invited as non-roster players to spring training include the three top young pitchers in Arizona's minor league system - Brad Penney, John Patterson and Nick Bierbrodt.

"Before we go in the first day I'm going to tell them they're not going to make this ball club, so get that out of your heads," Showalter said. "They're here to watch Andy Benes, Randy Johnson, Todd Stottlemyre and Armando Reynoso, to see the way professional pitchers in the major leagues carry themselves."

Penney, Patterson and Bierbrodt will start the season at Arizona's new Double-A farm club in El Paso, Showalter said.

The rest of the players don't report to spring training until next week.

The Diamondbacks were close to a deal that would send outfielder Bernard Gilkey and another player to Pittsburgh for Al Martin and Tony Womack. The deal was contingent upon the Pirates signing former Twins infielder Pat Meares to play shortstop.

"I've had conversations with the Pirates, and we're continuing to talk," Garagiola said Tuesday.

Mike Benjamin, signed earlier by the Pirates to fill in at shortstop until prospect Abraham Nunez is ready, or rookie Warren Morris would replace Womack at second.

The two Pirates would give the Diamondbacks some much-needed speed on the bases.

Womack, 30, a second baseman who likely would play right field for the Diamondbacks, has led the NL in stolen bases the last two seasons. Martin had 20 steals last season and 38 in 1996, but is coming off a career-low .239 season.

Martin is penciled in as the Pirates' fourth outfielder, despite his team-leading $2.8 million salary. Martin, who has pushed for a trade since the Pirates dealt for outfielders Brant Brown and Brian Giles, would likely fill the same role in Arizona.

Other than the signing of Meares, there were two other sticking points holding up the trade. The two teams had yet to agree on what player would be sent to the Pirates with Gilkey. And the Diamondbacks had yet to agree on how large a portion of Gilkey's contract they were willing to pay.

The Arizona Republic reported that the other player would either be a reserve outfielder - David Dellucci, Yamil Benitez or Dante Powell - or relief prospects Ben Ford, Nelson Figueroa or Russell Jacob.

(Thank goodness Brian WASN'T traded before or during the 1999 season, and helped lead the Diamondbacks to the National League West Championship!)

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