Phelps provides early glimpse of flexibility

Phelps provides early glimpse of flexibility

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Different team, similar situation for David Phelps. On any given day, the right-hander prepares himself to either start or relieve. Phelps again proved to be adaptable on Monday in the Marlins' 13-2 win over the Mets at Tradition Field. Initially, Mat Latos was scheduled to start, but a change was announced on Sunday.

If Phelps learned anything from his three-year tenure with the Yankees, it was that flexibility matters. It's a bonus that he is able to start or come out of the bullpen.

"We've talked about our depth, and having some depth in the rotation or the bullpen," manager Mike Redmond said. "We've got guys who can do both."

Phelps is the ultimate swing man. He demonstrated that last year with New York, appearing in 32 games, 17 of which were starts. The Marlins were planning on pitching Phelps on Monday regardless. However, they were thinking of having him back up Latos with a few innings of relief.

But Miami announced on Sunday that Latos would pitch in a simulated game on Monday, clearing the way for Phelps to open at the Mets.

Before Spring Training started, the Marlins informed Phelps of his role. So he is used to changing on the fly. A bonus is he knows what day he is throwing, just not always in what role.

"They're like, 'We're going to get our guys going. We're going to stretch you out as a starter, but that might mean you get a start or you piggy-back with somebody,'" Phelps said. "So regardless of who was starting this game, I was still coming in prepared to go two or three innings."

Phelps worked three innings against the Mets, giving up one run on three hits with two strikeouts. He was staked to a six-run lead in the second inning and a nine-run cushion in the third.

After the big offensive output, Phelps surrendered a leadoff triple to Matt den Dekker to open the third. He struck out Gavin Cecchini before Curtis Granderson lifted a sacrifice fly to left.

Ruben Tejada had a two-out single, but Phelps retired David Wright on a grounder that shortstop Reid Brignac made a nice play on.

"The last couple of years, I pitched with guys like Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, who do a great job with that," Phelps said. "I was able to pick their brains about those kinds of situations, and a lot of other things too."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.