CLEARWATER, Fla. - On Monday, the Phillies announced Cliff Lee would begin the season on the 60-day DL, and that the prognosis for him returning at all, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., didn't come with "the greatest odds."
Tomorrow, Aaron Harang will take the mound for just the second time this spring after battling a balky back.
In between, another Phillies starting pitcher had an injury force him from taking the mound. Jerome Williams had his scheduled start scratched yesterday after tweaking his right hamstring.
But the 33-year-old Williams said it was "not serious at all." Williams will throw a bullpen session tomorrow and jump back into his place in the rotation on Sunday against the Red Sox in Fort Myers.
"It's a freak accident," Williams said of the hamstring pain, the result of going through his regular running regimen on Sunday. "I was working hard and it kind of grabbed me. So you take precautions and just treat it and be ready."
David Buchanan jumped into Williams' place yesterday and reeled off three straight perfect innings. Buchanan struck out six of the first nine batters he faced and sent each of the first 10 batters he faced back to the dugout.
"I felt good," Buchanan said. "I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes. I think that's what helped me out the most. . . . I think in the second inning I was better about getting ahead strike one. But being behind 1-0 is what I'm trying to avoid, because over the course of the game if you keep doing that your pitch count is going to escalate, which you don't want."
The second-year starter has a 2.45 ERA in four games this spring.
"He looked real good, excellent changeup, got a lot of ground balls," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Good sign with his two-seam fastball. He looked real sharp today."
With Lee set to start the season on the 60-day DL, Buchanan is a lock for a rotation spot, along with Opening Day starter Cole Hamels, Williams and Harang. Harang is set to make his second start of the spring tomorrow night in Tampa.
Utley to second?
Chase Utley could make his spring debut at second base tomorrow night in Tampa, following today's scheduled day off in the Phillies' schedule.
Utley, who missed the first 10 games of the spring while recovering from a sprained right ankle, went 1-for-4 with an RBI in the Phillies' 5-3 loss to Tampa yesterday. Utley has been used strictly as a designated hitter since returning to the field on Friday, starting four of the last five games.
Utley's four at-bats yesterday were the most he's had in one game yet.
"It's been a day-to-day situation," Ryne Sandberg said of getting Utley in the field. "He's passing the tests as far as I'm concerned, running the bases, his pregame work [in the field]."
Should Utley start tomorrow night against the Yankees, he'll probably rest on Friday in Bradenton against the Pirates, being a day game after a night game. He could start again on Saturday in Clearwater, before the Phillies' 2-hour-plus trip to Fort Myers on Sunday.
Utley is hitting .417 (5-for-12) in four games.
Darin Ruf got his work on the minor league fields behind Bright House Field yesterday. Ruf is hitting .172 (5-for-29) with seven strikeouts in nine games this spring. In minor league spring training games, major league players can rack up more at-bats, as lineups can be easily manipulated throughout the game. . . . Phillippe Aumont served up one of the two home runs Tampa's Logan Forsythe hit yesterday. Aumont has yielded three home runs in four appearances this spring. He enters his sixth camp with the Phillies out of options - he must clear waivers before being sent to Triple A. . . . Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera went 2-for-4, raising his spring average to .364 (12-for-33) in 10 games. Herrera started in leftfield.