It is an appropriate pairing: pitcher and catcher.

Righthander Kyle Kendrick and backup backstop Chris Coste were the lone players to embark on the Phillies' three-day winter tour yesterday, with stops scheduled in Williamsport, Pa.; Lakewood, N.J.; and Harrisburg.

More than a decade apart in age, the battery mates are much closer in their outlook for this season: Both have something to prove.

For the 23-year-old Kendrick, who jumped from double A to the majors in June and became one of the Phils' most consistent starters, the 2008 season will be his chance to show 2007 was not a fluke.

Can you say sophomore jinx?

"I heard about it," said Kendrick, who went 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA for the National League East champions. "But I'm not worried about it. I'm not thinking about it. It is what it is."

Coste insists the finesse pitcher is of a different breed.

"He liked being in the major leagues so much that he's going to want to do anything in his power to stay," the 34-year-old catcher said. "Because he knows that as much success as he had last year, that if he slips and falls a little bit, that he could easily see himself back in the minors."

If the rotation stands, Kendrick is No. 3 in the pecking order behind Cole Hamels and Brett Myers. Jamie Moyer and Adam Eaton follow Kendrick, although Chad Durbin and Travis Blackley will compete for a spot.

Late in December, general manager Pat Gillick said it was unlikely that the Phils would add another starter. Even so, Kendrick knows his first spring training will not be a coronation.

"I still have to go out and do my job and just win," said Kendrick, who hopes to improve his effectiveness against lefthanded hitters. "There's nothing set in stone yet."

If Kendrick needed any motivation, he could recall the fourth inning of Game 2 of the playoffs against the Colorado Rockies. With the bases loaded, two outs and the Phils ahead by 3-2, manager Charlie Manuel lifted Kendrick for Kyle Lohse.

The righthanded Lohse served up a grand slam, the Phils lost by 10-5, and they were swept two days later.

"It's over and done with," Kendrick said, then paused. "I don't think I have anything to prove after that game. Obviously, I didn't do my job."

Coste knows a lot about disappointment. It took the career minor-leaguer 11 years before he made "the show." After two straight abbreviated seasons in the majors, though, Coste feels comfortable about his chances of making the team. Sort of.

"I would never use the word comfortable," Coste said. "It's a better feeling because at least it appears that for the first time I have the ball in my court a little bit."

Last off-season, the Phils signed Rod Barajas to be Carlos Ruiz's backup. Coste was the odd man out. He started the season in the minors, jumping back and forth between levels until he permanently joined the Phillies in late June.

With Barajas ineffective and then hurt, Coste earned back the No. 2 spot, hitting .279 with five home runs and 22 RBIs in 48 games.

The Phils declined to pick up Barajas' option after the season. At this juncture, Coste looks to be a sure bet to make the 25-man roster.

If he doesn't make the team, he can fall back on his writing. Coste said his rags-to-riches book - The 33-Year-Old Rookie: How I Finally Made It to the Big Leagues After Eleven Years in the Minors - will be on sale March 18.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or