PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ After spending nine seasons in the major leagues, Shane Rawley just wanted to ease into his 10th.

Even though ace left-hander Steve Carlton wasn't with the Phillies at the start of a season for the first time in 15 years, Rawley wasn't looking to be the star of the staff.

''When Shane came into spring training this year he didn't do anything special,'' Philadelphia pitching coach Claude Osteen said. ''He figured he'd work hard enough and 'I'll be one of the five starters.'

''But we sat down with on top of the complex building in Clearwater (Fla.) and tried to impress on him what he meant to the club. With all the young pitchers, (Don) Carman, Kevin Gross, Bruce Ruffin, whether he liked it or not, he had to be the leader. And he definitely hadn't seen himself in that light.''

To the 32-year-old Rawley, it was a role he never had to worry about before.

''I never considered myself the leader,'' said Rawley, 17-10 this season and one of the contenders for the National League Cy Young Award. ''On all the teams I played on before, they've always had someone in that position.''

Rawley started in the Montreal organization before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds, who quickly traded him to the Seattle organization.

He made it to the Mariners' in 1978 and was traded to the New York Yankees after the 1981 season for pitchers Bill Caudill and Gene Nelson and outfielder Bobby Brown.

Rawley was 11-10 with the Yankees in 1982 and 14-14 the following year. But early into 1984, New York sent Rawley to Philadelphia for pitcher Marty Bystrom and outfielder Keith Hughes.

Rawley was 47-58 in six seasons in the American League, but since coming to the Phillies he is 51-31, including a six- and an eight-game winning streak this season.

Last year, he was 11-7 and made the All-Star team before a broken bone in his left shoulder ended his season in late July.

''When he came to us, you could see his ability,'' Osteen said. ''If he mentally approached it right, on any given night, he could beat anybody in the world.

''It was easy for me to see why he was a so-so pitcher. He didn't maintain his concentration. It didn't go from one game to the next. So many times he would have a team in his back pocket in the sixth or seventh inning, and be 0-2 on a hitter and then just throw a nothing pitch.

''So many times we saw teams rally on him in the sixth or seventh and he tried to put out the fire, but he'd never be able to get it back fast enough.''

Rawley won't openly blame Yankees owner George Steinbrenner for not fulfilling the expectations set for him.

''I was fine there (New York),'' Rawley said. ''There were some things that aren't needed to go into now. With the Yankees, Steinbrenner had it in his mind that I wasn't going to pitch for him. At the time, he traded he me to a first-place club, so I wasn't unhappy. He could have traded me anywhere.''

Rawley is only one of six pitchers who have won 10 or more games in each of the last six seasons including Floyd Bannister, Bill Gullickson, Charlie Hough, Jack Morris, Rick Rhoden and Fernando Valenzuela.

''The big difference since I've gotten here is Gus Hoefling,'' Rawley said referring to the Phillies' strength and flexibility coach, the man Carlton accredited much of his success to. ''The first day I got here I got right into the program...something to get me over the hump.''

Hoefling, a former martial arts instructor, helped Carlton win three of his four Cy Young Awards and also was instrumental in John Denny's Cy Young- winning season. Yet, Hoefling, who is known by the players for his incredibly strenuous workouts, refuses to take the credit.

''Shane is a very gifted athlete,'' Hoefling said. ''He's one of the hardest workers I've ever had. The program uses martial arts to elevate a player's confidence, make him feel like he's important, that organization wants him. If a player feels confident and that he's wanted, he's going to want to win for that organization.''

Despite Rawley's early career mediocrity and last season's injury, the Cy Young award has been on his mind.

''I did take it a little bit slower this year, not knowing how the shoulder would react,'' Rawley said. ''To be truthful, it (the Cy Young Award) always was of mine and Gus' goals. It was more of a motivational tool. When we working Gus would be saying 'We're chasing that award.'''