A year ago, David Buchanan was rained out of a chance to pitch in the Phillies' final exhibition game at Citizens Bank Park, a start he was anticipating before departing for triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Things have turned around for the 25-year-old righthander since then, to the point that pitching at the Phillies ballpark is now old hat.
Instead of being the opening-day starter for the IronPigs, as he was a year ago, Buchanan is firmly in the Phillies rotation, although that may say as much about the team's pitching depth as it does Buchanan.
Still, he is here after spending two stints last season with the Phillies, going 6-8 with a 3.75 ERA, and he is past the stage at which he's just glad to be in the Show. But the hunger will remain.
"Honestly, I would never be secure," he said. "I know there are always guys fighting for my spot."
Buchanan ended a strong spring with five shutout innings during Saturday's 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the exhibition finale for both teams at Citizens Bank Park.
He lowered his spring ERA to 1.29. Afterward, the team announced that Buchanan will start the third game of the year, Thursday at home against Boston, and that Jerome Williams would start the fourth game, Friday against visiting Washington.
It was previously announced that Cole Hamels will start Monday's home opener against the Red Sox and Aaron Harang will start the second game of the series on Wednesday.
"Overall, I am pleased," Buchanan said about his spring performance. "I thought the curveball was pretty successful this spring and was happy with that, and it is something to continue building on for the season."
He said the biggest difference between his stuff this year and last is his command. On Saturday, Buchanan surrendered his first two walks of the spring. He allowed those two walks over 21 exhibition innings. He walked 32 batters in 1172/3 major-league innings last year.
"I have movement on my pitches, and as long as I can keep them down in the zone and on the corners, I will be OK," he said.
Another difference, manager Ryne Sandberg said, was Buchanan's willingness to make adjustments.
"He was one guy who really took to heart what was told to him . . . at the end of last season," Sandberg said. "He worked on things, being a complete pitcher in all facets of the game, including the offense, and he showed it through the whole spring training, and he really stepped up."
It was a difficult day to pitch, with a swirling wind. Buchanan's counterpart, Pirates righthander Charlie Morton threw 70 pitches, 31 for strikes, over 12/3 innings. He allowed six runs (five earned), while walking five and hitting two batters, and he threw two wild pitches.
Morton never could find the strike zone, but Buchanan kept pounding it, something he hopes to carry into the regular season.
Notes. The Phillies signed righthanded starter Dustin McGowan. McGowan has a career record of 25-27 with a 4.57 ERA. He has not thrown more than 100 innings in a major-league season since 2008. . . . Chase Utley went 1 for 3 with two RBIs and ended the exhibition season hitting .412 with four home runs, 11 RBIs, and a 1.398 OPS. . . . The Phillies finished the exhibition season 14-17.
The Phillies have to get down to their 25-man roster by
3 p.m. Sunday. They made several moves on Saturday.
RHP Dustin McGowan signed.
RHP Jeanmar Gomez had his contract purchased.
LHP Cesar Jimenez had his contract purchased.
LHP Andy Oliver was outrighted and elected for free agency.
C Rene Garcia was reassigned to triple A.
IF Russ Canzler was reassigned to triple A.
IF Cord Phelps was reassigned to triple A.