CLEARWATER, Fla. - Regardless of what happens in the competition between Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer for the fifth spot in the Opening Day rotation, the Phillies will continue to look for another experienced major league starter who can provide organizational depth in case of injury.

The ideal candidate is someone who is either out of options, meaning his current team cannot send him down to the minors without first placing him on waivers, or has a minor league contract that includes an out clause. He also must be content to start the season at Triple A or Double A.

"One thing we don't have much of is starting pitching depth,'' general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday. "That is a concern of ours. If we can acquire some depth that we have some flexibility with, that we can send to Double A or Triple A, we can have somebody in the wings we feel can help us at the major league level.''

The Phillies found such a player last season when they signed righthander Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league contract on March 5. After Lopez spent the first 3 months at Triple A Lehigh Valley, the Phillies promoted him to replace injured lefthander Antonio Bastardo, who had replaced injured righthander Brett Myers. Lopez went on to start five games, going 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA before the Phillies traded for Cliff Lee.

Amaro and the rest of the front office also will look to bolster the bullpen depth, something they did last season with the signing of Tyler Walker just before the start of the season.

Veteran lefty Scott Schoeneweis recently opted out of his contract in Milwaukee, although it is unlikely the Phillies would guarantee him a spot on the major league roster. The Yankees released righthander Chad Gaudin yesterday, but the 27-year-old starter/reliever is likely to receive a big-league offer somewhere.

Nevertheless, the Phillies will continue to look for their next Lopez or Walker.

"If a player like that comes available, we'll have our eyes and ears open on it,'' Amaro said.

Kendrick solid

It might have been Kyle Kendrick's final chance to make a case for the fifth spot in the rotation. Once again, the young righthander was impressive, allowing two runs - one earned - on five hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Astros yesterday.

Veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer is scheduled to make his second Grapefruit League start tonight against the Yankees in Tampa. Pitching coach Rich Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel said they have not set a timetable for picking their final starter.

"We haven't talked about it any,'' Manuel said. "[Kendrick] pitched well. He's had a big spring. We'll just have to wait and see."


Rich Dubee said righthander Brad Lidge, who threw 24 pitches in two-thirds of an inning in a minor league game Wednesday, is unlikely to make a Grapefruit League appearance. "He's a long ways away,'' Dubee said, "but he's getting there, step by step by step'' . . . Righthander Roy Halladay made his second-to-last start before Opening Day, throwing 98 pitches in a minor league game against CC Sabathia and a host of Yankees prospects in Clearwater . . . Catcher Carlos Ruiz drove in three runs, two on a single and one on a double, against Sabathia . . . Centerfielder Shane Victorino went 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI while hitting leadoff in the Grapefruit League game . . . Shortstop Jimmy Rollins and first baseman Ryan Howard had the day off . . . Jamie Moyer is scheduled to start tomorrow against the Twins in Fort Myers . . . Astros righthander Brett Myers left the game with a mild groin strain in the sixth inning . . . Infielder Ross Gload hit a bases-loaded, two-run single in the seventh as the Phillies rallied to beat the Astros, 8-7.