Paul Maholm willing to pitch out of bullpen if needed

USA TODAY Sports

Maholm's lone relief appearance came on July 8, 2012 while with the Cubs.

GLENDALE -- Paul Maholm has started 242 of his 243 major league games, but he could find himself pitching out the Dodgers bullpen if everything goes as planned.

Maholm, who was signed on Saturday to a one-year, $1.5 million contract plus incentives, is competing for the fifth starter spot currently held by Josh Beckett. But the Dodgers also talked to him about possibly pitching out of the bullpen as well, something he is willing to do.

"Paul is aware we're not sure what our need will be, whether it will be as a starting pitcher, a reliever or a long man," said general manager Ned Colletti. "Paul said it doesn't matter, just to let him know and he'll prepare for whatever we need him to do."

Beckett is the only pitcher who hasn't yet reported to camp, but it's an excused absence, and the right-hander is expected on Monday. Beckett had surgery on July 10 in Dallas to remove a rib from his right side to relieve pressure on his nerves caused by Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

"Depth in our pitching staff is important. Josh is doing really well and everything else, but he's coming off a tough surgery. There hasn't been very many of them, and not a whole lot of history with that," manager Don Mattingly said. "We just have to see where things go."

Rotation depth is nothing new to the Dodgers, who had eight starters signed to major league deals to start the 2013 season, yet still needed a ninth starter by April 27, their 23rd game. The Dodgers might have six starters when healthy (seven once Chad Billingsley returns), but "when healthy" is the key phrase.

"I look at as protection, not only for our staff, but for our guys that are developing," Mattingly said. "That's where you don't want to put somebody in a spot that you think they're going to be able to handle, and they may handle, but it could stop their development and push them back."

For now, and it's important to note we are a full six weeks before the first regular season game, the Dodgers will progress through the spring with both Beckett and Maholm on starter's programs, until they either have to make a decision or one is made for them.

"I'm going to come in and compete," Maholm said Sunday. "If I pitch well, things will work out."

Maholm can earn up to $5 million in performance bonuses, and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has some details. Maholm can reach the maximum bonuses at 60 points, with two points per start, 1.5 points per relief appearance of two or more innings, and one point per relief appearance under two innings.

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