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Durbin confident despite slow start to season

Durbin confident despite slow start to season

PHILADELPHIA -- Chad Durbin is well aware that his ERA was at 7.00 going into Sunday's game. How could he not be? His wife, Crystal, brought it up. So did his friends. They've all pointed to that unsightly number and ask what's wrong.

Which is funny because Durbin swears he wouldn't have known unless everybody kept bringing it up.

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"I don't really look. My wife and friends pointed out that I had that. That's the only reason I know what the [heck] it is," the 35-year-old reliever said. "I usually don't look until it's on the baseball card. At the end of the year, I'm like, 'OK, cool, I have this.' Because up to that point, it doesn't matter. Relievers, I think, that's probably the worst stat we can possibly look at.

"I know guys who get 35 holds and have a 4 1/2 [ERA] and people say he had a so-so year. No, in the games that really mattered, he was really, really good. So it is what it is. I'm healthy. I feel good."

One thing to keep in mind is that April has traditionally been Durbin's worst month. His career ERA in the first month is 6.33.

"It takes him a little bit longer than most guys to control his adrenaline and control his arm path," said pitching coach Rich Dubee. "He gets real deep behind and real long and he doesn't catch up and he's made some mistakes up in the zone. So we're trying to control his arm path and we're trying to control his adrenaline so he can command his stuff better."

Another is that Durbin came ever so close to bucking that trend this season. Going into the final day of the month, he had a 3.52 ERA. That night, at Cleveland's Progressive Field, he gave up four runs in 1 1/3 innings, including homers to Ryan Rayburn and Michael Brantley.

"The pitch Rayburn hit was a first-pitch cutter," Durbin said. "If guys hit first pitches that are strikes out of the park, I'll tip my cap. And the Brantley pitch was just down a hair. It was on the corner. So, to be honest, I'll have a seven for the rest of my life if that's the way it goes."

Before that game, Durbin had made six straight appearances without allowing a run. And while it's true that a half dozen inherited runners scored in that span, he was also coming into situations that weren't in the preseason blueprint.

"Unfortunately, kind of the way we're set up, he got into a lot of tough situations early," Dubee said. "We're trying to find some easier spots for him to get his feet on the ground and get into a comfort zone."

Durbin remains confident his numbers will be where they should be when that baseball card is printed this winter.

"My body's in shape," he said. "The mind's in shape. There's not much to that."

After giving up two runs -- one earned -- in 1 2/3 innings of Sunday's 14-2 loss to Miami, his ERA was down to 6.75.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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