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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-07-29

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-07-29

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-07-29
As a veteran of nine major league seasons, right-hander Adam Eaton had the right to refuse a minor league assignment. But since he got replaced in the Phillies' starting rotation 10 days earlier by newly acquired Joe Blanton, Eaton hadn't grown comfortable with a relief role.

"It's a different beast," he said after allowing three runs in the fourth inning Sunday.

So, like struggling righty Brett Myers earlier this month, Eaton agreed Monday that the best chance for him to regain his effectiveness is to go to the minors. He was optioned to Class AAA Lehigh Valley and will pitch at several levels of the Phils' farm system, where general manager Pat Gillick said Eaton likely will stay until the minor league season ends Labor Day weekend.

"We can't give him regular work here," Gillick said. "He's been a starter all his life. At this point, he's unproductive as a starter. This is the only way for him to get back on track."

But Eaton, 30, has been off course since he signed a three-year, $24.5 million free agent contract in November 2006.

Last season, he posted a 6.29 ERA, highest among National League pitchers with at least 30 starts. After a decent start to this season, he has a 6.20 ERA in his last 13 starts en route to a 4-8 record and 5.80 ERA overall.

In 51 appearances (49 starts) for the Phillies, Eaton is 14-11 with a 6.11 ERA. And although going to the minors will put him out of the Phillies' sight, he can't be out of their mind, not with the $8.5 million that he's owed for next season, the last on his cumbersome contract.

"I think he believes he can pitch better, and we do, too," said Gillick, responsible for doling out that contract after losing Randy Wolf via free agency. "He hasn't pitched like Adam Eaton is capable of. He recognizes that, and he's made the reasonable decision to go down there and figure it out."

Said assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., "He's got to get his act together. He has not pitched well for us."

Neither Eaton nor his agent, Jim Lindell, returned calls Monday.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: July 29, 2008

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