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D-backs pitcher Patrick Corbin trying to prove he belongs this spring

LISTEN: Patrick Corbin, D-backs Pitcher

The coveted fifth spot in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rotation might be the most intriguing competition this spring, but left-hander Patrick Corbin admitted he’s trying to keep things in perspective.

Corbin, along with Randall Delgado and Tyler Skaggs, entered camp in a three-way battle for the spot, but already the potential candidates have been reduced to two.

Monday, the D-backs optioned Skaggs to Triple-A Reno, leaving Corbin and Delgado as the last men standing.

“I texted Tyler yesterday when he got sent down and I told him ‘you’ll be up here eventually it’s just a matter of time,'” Corbin told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Tuesday. “Me and him are really good buddies so it’s sad to see him go, but I know it’s only a matter of time for both of us to be back up here.”

While Corbin — acquired by the D-backs in the deal that sent Dan Haren to the Los Angeles Angels in July 2010 — didn’t hesitate to console his good friend, the 23-year-old knows that baseball is a business and with Opening Day less than two weeks away his sole focus remains on proving that he deserves a place behind Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy and Wade Miley.

“I’ve been doing it my whole career, with the Angels and now here,” Corbin said of being a starter. “I’m comfortable with it, I love coming into a game in the first inning and getting after the guys and setting a tone for the team.”

In 2012, the D-backs used Corbin as both a starter and a reliever. During his first stint in the majors from April 30 to May 21, Corbin made five starts with mixed results (2-3 record with a 5.27 ERA).

On May 22, Corbin was sent back to Triple-A, but he would only spend a month up in Reno.

Following his second call-up in late June, Corbin pitched beautifully over his next five appearances (allowed two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings of work).

Corbin’s success as a reliever earned him another shot as a starter over the final two months of the season, but he once again struggled to find a level of consistency. In his final 12 starts, Corbin went 4-4 with a 4.76 ERA.

Although he and Delgado are vying for the team’s final rotation spot, Corbin said that just getting a chance to pitch with the D-backs in 2012 showed him that all that matters is getting a chance to contribute in the majors.

“I’d love to be a starter, but I’d also love to be up here to help the team,” said Corbin. “I would do anything they would ask up here. If they want me as a starter or a reliever I feel like I’d be capable to do either of those two.”

This spring, Corbin said his goal was not only to win the No. 5 job but also to develop a breaking ball that he can throw for strikes.

In five appearances, it seems the latter goal might help him ultimately achieve the former. Corbin is 2-0 with a 3.68 ERA and 15 strikeouts.