By Sam Bush

This is what terrible baseball teams do to create an illusion for their fans that there is fact hope.

Instead of concentrating on trading a former star like Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels or Chase Utley, they back and fill.

On Monday they filled, signing 34-year-old right-hander Kevin Correia.

Correia will start on Friday at Pittsburgh.

“He was on our radar as far back as the offseason,” assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. “He was kind of in the same mix as some other guys like [Aaron] Harang, [Chad] Billingsley and [Kevin] Slowey.”

Correia, who was scheduled to join the Phillies last night in Cincinnati, will throw one bullpen session before his start against the Pirates.

“Kevin fills a need by adding depth, durability and experience to our pitching staff,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “We hope that he can give us quality innings to take some heat off the bullpen.”

Correia exercised an opt-out clause in his contract on May 29 and was released by San Francisco. He made six starts for Triple-A Sacramento (0-1, 3.58 ERA), allowing 34 hits and 11 walks while striking out 25 over 37 2/3 innings. He worked seven scoreless innings against Nashville in his final minor league start.

Manager Ryne Sandberg said that the addition of Correia will give an extra day of rest to Monday and Tuesday starters Cole Hamels and Harang.

“Pitching on their sixth day will be good for them,” Sandberg said.

Correia made a combined 32 appearances (26 starts) for the Twins and Dodgers last season (7-17, 5.44 ERA). He has a career 4.59 ERA over time spent with San Francisco, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Los Angeles.

“[Correia] is a veteran,” Sandberg said. “He knows the league and knows the hitters.”

Correia replaces Severino Gonzalez in the rotation. Gonzalez went 2-2 with an 8.69 ERA in five starts before being optioned to Lehigh Valley on Sunday.

The Phillies have also signed right-handed reliever J.C. Gutierrez, who worked 61 games for the Giants last summer. Gutierrez was assigned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Gutierrez asked for his release from San Francisco after going 0-1 with a 4.39 ERA in one start and 13 relief appearances for Sacramento. He made 61 appearances for the Giants last summer (1-2, 3.96 ERA) and has pitched in 264 games since 2007 for the Astros, D-backs, Royals, Angels and Giants. He will join Lehigh Valley in Durham on Tuesday.


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