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Outman in the mix for rotation or long-relief role

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies left-hander Josh Outman has pitched more as a starter than as a reliever in the Majors with Oakland and Colorado, but he said he will not limit himself.

Although the starting rotation is considered a weakness -- based on the team having the highest starter ERA in the Majors last year at 5.81 -- unless there are injuries or setbacks, all but one spot could be secure. Veteran lefty Jeff Francis re-signed in the offseason, and lefty Jorge De La Rosa and righties Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio are back from injuries that cost each of them the majority of last season.

Outman enters a competition that also involves highly touted lefty Drew Pomeranz, left-hander Christian Friedrich and righties Tyler Chatwood and Chris Volstad. With Pomeranz, Friedrich, Chatwood and Outman all having Minor League options and Volstad in camp under a Minor League contract, the Rockies have the potential to have all of those who don't make the rotation begin the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

However, the Rockies also have said pitchers who don't make the rotation might be in the mix for one of three hybrid relief roles, where they can pitch on a rotation and be in the game for variable lengths. Other competitors for those roles are veteran right-handers Miguel Batista and Manuel Corpas, who are both under Minor League contracts.

Outman finished last season 1-3 with an 8.19 ERA in 27 games, including seven starts. He was 1-1 with a 6.91 ERA as a reliever and did his best pitching out of the bullpen in the final month of the season.

"My mentality more or less is to come into Spring Training and do what I'm capable of doing," said Outman, who said he was told he would be allowed to compete for a starter spot. "At the end of the day, it's going to be up to the staff to make the decision whether I'm going to be a starter or one of those three long guys."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.