KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Minutes after Phillies batting practice began Thursday at Osceola County Stadium, Darin Ruf felt a twinge in his rib cage and retreated to the visitors clubhouse with assistant athletic trainer Shawn Fcasni.

Ruf, a bench hopeful, later received a diagnosis of a strained left oblique. He was removed from the lineup against Houston. He will undergo more testing Friday. The injury is one that typically requires weeks of recovery. It could further muddle the Phillies' bench outlook.

Chase Utley suffered an oblique injury during a batting-practice swing last May. His strain was considered a milder one, yet Utley missed 28 games. Teams practice conservatism when treating those injuries.

The Phillies have two locks for their bench - infielder Freddy Galvis and catcher Wil Nieves. Both Kevin Frandsen and John Mayberry Jr. signed guaranteed contracts in the winter. Bobby Abreu must be added to the 25-man roster by March 26 or he can request his release.

Ruf's injury could create opportunity for Tony Gwynn Jr., a nonroster outfielder. The Phillies can choose between an eight-man bullpen or six-man bench in the season's first two weeks while they employ a four-man rotation.

The Phillies had split-squad games Thursday, and Gwynn, who did not appear in the majors last season, raised his spring average to .346 after going 2 for 3 during a 3-1 loss in Clearwater to Toronto. He has impressed team officials.

Pettibone update

Jonathan Pettibone, who has had shoulder soreness, will pitch in a minor-league game Saturday - his first game action this spring.

Monday was supposed to be his first game, but the action was rained out so he threw live batting practice that day in the batting cage.

Extra bases

Righthander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez received a cortisone shot in his right shoulder. . . . Jeff Manship struck out five and allowed one run in five innings during the Phillies' 6-3 win over Houston. His command is what stands out most; he has 14 strikeouts and two walks in 16 innings this spring. . . . David Buchanan allowed two runs on back-to-back solo home runs by Moises Sierra and former Phillie Erik Kratz to open the second inning and didn't surrender a hit the rest of the way during the loss to Toronto. The righthander, who has a 2.70 spring ERA, pitched four innings, striking out six and walking one. . . . Infielder Galvis remains day-to-day with an abscess in his left knee.