Duchscherer at full strength, in body and mind

Duchscherer at full strength, in body and mind

BALTIMORE -- Free-agent right-hander Justin Duchscherer, considered one of the best starting pitchers still on the market, said on Tuesday evening that physically he feels "pretty much 100 percent" and shot down the notion that his previous depression issues would prevent him from playing in New York.

"I find it funny that people say I can't pitch in that environment, but I've pitched in New York before," Duchscherer said. "As far as my mind, I have no problem being anywhere. Physically, it's a matter of [finding] the best situation for me."

The 33-year-old Duchscherer, an All-Star in 2008, told MLB.com in a phone interview that he has thrown for five Major League teams and is scheduled to toss a bullpen session for the Orioles on Friday.

A former 10-game winner, Duchscherer had his 2010 campaign in Oakland cut short, making just five starts before undergoing his second left hip surgery, which involved shaving down some of the bone to make room for cartilage.

"Honestly, I feel like I've proven [that] when I'm healthy, I'm a very good Major League pitcher," he said. "The only thing I have to prove is [whether] I can do it over the long term. My first two years in the big leagues as a reliever [with Oakland], I think I threw the second-most innings. I just want to get back to that -- where I'm healthy and I'm feeling like that."

With the Yankees still in play as a potential landing spot, Duchscherer said that he wouldn't have a problem pitching under the bright lights of New York, citing his son living in nearby New Jersey as a potential positive in playing for an American League East team such as the Yankees or Orioles.

But regardless of where he plays in 2011, he sees himself as a starter, a role that is not up for debate.

"I just don't feel -- with the injuries I've had -- that would be beneficial for my career to be [a reliever]," said Duchscherer, whose shortened 2010 season actually put him two weeks ahead of his typical offseason schedule.

"For me, it's black and white. I want to start; that's the whole mind-set I have. I haven't even thought of being a reliever. I want a team that's going to be honest with me and say, 'If you're healthy, you are going to start.' "

Duchscherer has thrown two full bullpen sessions off the mound already this winter, with favorable results, and is quick to point out that despite his "injury-prone" label, his arm has proven to be durable.

"The one [surgery] on my elbow was very minor," he said of the arthroscopic procedure he underwent at the start of the 2009 season. "It's not like I had Tommy John [surgery] or anything."

"I'm doing [these bullpen sessions] as a precaution, so I know how I feel. And so far everything has gone good."

In addition to the Orioles and Yankees, a handful of clubs -- the Pirates, Nationals and Indians -- are still looking for starting pitching and could take a low-risk chance on Duchscherer, who is 33-25 with a 3.13 ERA in parts of eight big league seasons.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.