Notes: Correia added to the mix

Notes: Correia added to the mix

SAN FRANCISCO -- Kirk Rueter has started 277 games for the Giants since 1996, but as it stands now, there may not be another one.

This season has been a slow slide toward oblivion for the 34-year-old pitcher -- the winningest left-hander in San Francisco history -- as Rueter (2-7, 5.95 ERA overall) hasn't won a game since May 13, and, in 10 starts since then, he has logged an 0-5 record and 7.37 ERA.

In July, the veteran started two games and appeared twice in relief for an 0-0 mark with an 11.25 ERA.

Given another chance at starting on Friday in Milwaukee, Rueter lasted only 3 2/3 innings and was rocked for five runs on seven hits.

Little wonder, then, that pitching coach Dave Righetti told Rueter on Tuesday he was being yanked from Thursday's scheduled start against the Colorado Rockies at SBC Park, with 24-year-old Kevin Correia taking that turn.

Asked how long Rueter would stay in the bullpen, manager Felipe Alou made a forward sweeping motion with his hand, meaning for the rest of the year, barring an emergency assignment.

"We're going to give the kids the ball," said Alou, of a rotation featuring Noah Lowry, Brad Hennessey and Correia, as well as veterans Jason Schmidt and Brett Tomko. "We're going to go that way the rest of the season. We're 15 games below .500, and we gotta give the kids a better look and opportunities, play them more."

Alou made one thing clear, however.

"It's not like we're throwing in the towel."

It wasn't a surprise for Rueter, but his usual jovial nature seemed forced.

"I don't know if I can help them in the bullpen, but if they want me to stay and think I can help, [I will]. But my career suggests I might be better suited as a starter," said Rueter. "I want to help this team win, but we have four left-handers in the bullpen. I'll pitch when they tell me to pitch."

Rueter said he's been a starter for 12 years and prefers that role.

"If I had started only two or three years, maybe I'd give it a whirl," he said of relieving. "I think I've had some success [at starting]. But they'll tell me when to pitch."

Last week, Rueter agreed that the Giants should allow the youngsters to gain invaluable experience with a multitude of starts, and he still feels that way.

"I think Hennessey and Correia are going to be good, and they deserve a chance to see what they've got."

Correia ready: It was good news for Correia, who can now focus on pitching every five days on a regular basis, rather than make spot starts and then pitch in relief. The right-hander was unscored upon in two of his three recent relief appearances, going 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA. In four starts this season, he's 1-2 with a 5.75 ERA.

"I'm glad I'm getting another opportunity at it," said Correia. "In the past three years, I haven't made consistent starts, so, definitely, it'll be a chance to see how comfortable I can get out there and get some consistency going."

Workout routines between starts vary considerably if you're starting or relieving, said Correia, and that helps pitching over the long haul.

"It gets you more comfortable," he said. If you miss a start and maybe get sent down -- if you've been gone a while -- [it] makes [your return] feel like the first time out there."

Ellison sick: Outfielder Jason Ellison walked into the clubhouse after batting practice at 5:30 p.m. PT Wednesday still dressed in jeans.

"I've got the flu," said the rookie, "and they told me to go home and get some rest. But I think they need me on the bench tonight."

On deck: Correia will make his fourth career appearance against the Rockies in Thursday's 12:35 p.m. PT game at SBC Park. He is 0-1 with a 2.92 ERA over three games vs. Colorado. Two seasons ago, Correia limited the Rockies to one run and three hits over six innings at home. Right-hander Jose Acevedo (2-1, 4.85 ERA) will start for the Rockies.

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