CLEARWATER, Fla. - David Buchanan will be the first to tell you he's not a strikeout pitcher.
But the 25-year-old righthander will take the six he recorded Tuesday in the first three innings of the Phillies' 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I got away with a few pitches. I'm not going to lie," he said. "Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good in this game."
Buchanan, all but a lock for the Phillies rotation in the wake of Cliff Lee's elbow injury, allowed one run on two hits in four innings. He started in place of Jerome Williams, who was scratched after he felt "a little grab" in his right hamstring while running sprints Sunday.
Over 20 starts as a rookie last year, Buchanan averaged less than six innings per outing. His inability to finish off hitters when ahead in the count was one reason. When he was ahead 0-2 last year, the opposition hit a blistering .321 off him.
Buchanan struck out the side in the third inning Tuesday. The final punch-out was his sixth, a mark he reached just three times last season.
"I mean, it is [encouraging], but I try not to get too caught up in that because that's not going to happen very often," he said. "I'm not a big strikeout guy. I'm not going to take it away from [myself], but I'm more so trying to get those ground balls and get early outs. If I can get a strikeout on three pitches, cool. But I'd rather get an out on one pitch."
Williams said he will be ready for his next outing. He's in line to start Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Cord Phelps found his name penciled into the lineup for the fourth consecutive day. The nonroster invitee said he isn't reading much into it.
"You see your name in there and just play," the 28-year-old infielder said. "It's spring training, so they're trying to take a look. Everybody just tries to go out and show what we're capable of."
Phelps' versatility and bat could make him a more enticing utility infielder than Cesar Hernandez, who is out of minor-league options, and nonroster invitee Andres Blanco. Phelps is hitting .350 with a home run and five RBIs in 20 spring at-bats. He has played mostly second base this spring.
"I think Cord's been impressive in his play on defense, swinging the bat; he's one of the better quality at-bats that kind of stands out on a consistent basis," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Everyone's competing in camp and he's one of the guys who's doing a real good job and he's been fairly consistent at doing his job."
The Phillies are off Wednesday before playing Thursday night against the New York Yankees in Tampa. . . . Games for those in the Phillies' minor-league camp began Tuesday.
- Jake Kaplan