Phillies add Franklin to rotation

Phillies add Franklin to rotation

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies' extended search for depth in the starting rotation brought them to Ryan Franklin, and culminated with a one-year, $2.6 million contract.

General manager Pat Gillick knows Franklin from his days in Seattle, and hopes that the right-hander has left the frustrations of 2004-05 behind him. Franklin comes off two seasons with the Mariners in which he went 12-31 with a 4.99 ERA. He became a free agent last month when he was non-tendered.

"I don't want to say I wore out my welcome in Seattle, but I was ready to move on," said Franklin. "I heard changes are good."

It can't be much worse for the 32-year-old, who in addition to enduring a poor season in 2005, had the added stigma of a 10-day suspension for violating baseball's drug policy. He said he used a supplement from a nutrition store, and said he had "no idea" how he tested positive.

"I still say to this day I never, ever, ever used any of that stuff, and I never will," he said.

Gillick took a chance on Franklin and doesn't believe the righty to be a steroid user. He accepted Franklin's explanation of why he tested positive.

"I know in the steroid situation, a lot of people don't know exactly how it came about, and you don't know if they were taking them or not," said Gillick. "In his case, he said he was taking protein shakes and got products from a nutrition store. I think that's where it ends."

"I was one of the guys that said, 'The stiffer the penalty the better,'" said Franklin. "Then when they told me my test came back positive, I was like, 'You're kidding, right?' It was a weird deal, man. I don't even like to talk about it."

Luckily for Franklin, his wife Angie has a degree in bio-chemistry from the University of Oklahoma. He hopes to be able to educate other players on the perils of putting unknown substances into their bodies.

"I think there could be more to help guys out," he said. "It's unfortunate that it happened. I still say to this day that I never used any of that stuff and never will. I've moved on."

He'll do the same on the field, joining Jon Lieber, Brett Myers and Cory Lidle in the starting rotation while trying to distance himself from the pitcher who lost 31 games over the past two seasons, more than any other Major Leaguer over that span. Franklin received 3.4 runs a game -- the second-fewest runs in the American League in 2005 -- but didn't help himself by posting a 5.10 ERA.

Gillick figures that Franklin will receive more support from a team that scored 807 runs last season, second to Cincinnati. That said, Franklin will have to figure out a way to prevent home runs. The veteran allowed 95 homers over the past three seasons, and moves to Citizens Bank Park, a favorable stadium for hitters.

Gillick is looking at a pitcher who went 18-18 with a 3.73 ERA in 2002-03 and has shown durability while averaging 32 starts and 201 1/3 innings over the past three years. The GM is confident in Franklin's ability to be that guy again.

"I think Ryan pitched better than his numbers dictated," Gillick said. "He's an excellent competitor who comes right after the hitter. He doesn't fool around. He's going to pitch a lot better than he has the last couple of seasons. We think he's going to bounce back and take a spot in our rotation.

"He's going to pitch a lot better than he has the last couple of seasons. We think he's going to bounce back and take a spot in our rotation."
-- Phillies GM Pat Gillick

"From my standpoint, he's going to pitch a heck of a lot better than the 15-loss season [in 2005]. He has been one of the unlucky guys on the club to lose 15 games back to back. He had the second-least run support in the American League and I think he's going to get a lot more over here. If he loses 15 games, he's going to win 16 or 17. I'm pretty sure of that."

Franklin's arrival doesn't simplify the situation for Ryan Madson, who wants to be a starter but may remain in the bullpen. Gillick said the team is still shopping for a starter or late-inning reliever, and Madson would fill the other spot.

If Spring Training started tomorrow, Gillick said Madson would be a starter.

The day after tomorrow could be a different story.

"We still have to add some additional pitching," Gillick said. "[Madson's destination] depends where we add it. If we add it in the back end [of the bullpen], he'll probably be one of our starters. If we add it in the front end, he might be the eighth-inning guy."

Gillick conceded that the needed player will likely come via trade, possibly for one of Philadelphia's surplus of outfielders, including Jason Michaels and Shane Victorino. The difficult part for Madson is that he's the best candidate to set up for Tom Gordon.

"He'd be the most likely guy in the group," Gillick said. "But a lot depends on what we do leading up to Spring Training."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.