Phillies Spell Relief L-I-E-B-E-R

With Pat Gillick announcing that deals to send one of their starters elsewhere weren't going anywhere the question was who was headed to the bullpen? That answer came Wednesday when Charlie Manuel designated Jon Lieber for the job.

Jon Lieber will start the season in the bullpen, but he's not really happy about it. In some ways, he's playing the role of the good veteran in that he's not going to insist on a trade or refuse to pitch out of relief. In other ways though, he's playing the role of a disgruntled veteran in that he's complaining all the way along the walk from the mound to the bullpen.

Even though he's pitching well this spring - 1.50 ERA in six innings of work - Lieber was picked to start the year as the newest Phillies' reliever. Maybe it's the fact that he is pitching so well that has Lieber miffed at the assignment. "I'm disappointed," Lieber said. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. I think I can still start. That was my mind frame this off-season, to better myself. I signed here to be a starter." Lieber's days as a Phillies starter were numbered when the Phillies traded for Freddy Garcia and signed Adam Eaton as a free agent. The plan was to trade one of their starters, but that hasn't happened, at least not yet. "It's either 29 teams don't like me, or they're asking too much," said Lieber about the lack of a trade.

There was some consideration to move Eaton to the bullpen, but in the end, manager Charlie Manuel thought moving Lieber was the better choice. "He has pitched well [this spring]. It was a real tough decision," said Manuel. Lieber last pitched in relief in 1996, with the exception of one game in relief in both 1997 and 1998. "He's been a starter for 11 years. Let's see how he reacts, how it works out," explained Manuel.

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