Kendrick helps rotation bid, Hamels throws bullpen

March 21, 2009 4:02:09 PM PDT
Kyle Kendrick kept himself in the race for the final spot in Philadelphia's rotation. The 24-year-old right-hander pitched his best game of spring training Saturday in the Phillies' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins. Kendrick allowed two runs and five hits in five innings.

He called his latest outing "a step forward." Kendrick is competing with veteran Chan Ho Park, rookie J.A. Happ and top prospect Carlos Carrasco for the role of fifth starter.

"It was a good, solid outing - which I needed," said Kendrick, who struggled earlier this spring. "Not to bring up last year, but this is how it was last spring. I struggled getting everything situated and then I went from there. ... I just want to build on it and keep going."

The Phillies also received encouraging news about their ace. Left-hander Cole Hamels threw off a mound for the first time since leaving camp Tuesday with elbow tightness.

Hamels, who had an anti-inflammatory shot Tuesday, said he didn't feel any pain following a bullpen session that simulated a two-inning stint.

"The only soreness I have is from the injection, and that actually has been fading day by day," Hamels said. "Other than that, all the spots that were kind of causing me soreness didn't cause me any discomfort at all, so I think that's a good thing."

Hamels will pitch in a minor league game Tuesday. His status for the regular-season opener April 5 against Atlanta is uncertain. Kendrick, who has won 21 games as a starter since June 2007, lost his spot in the rotation late last summer. After a slow start against the Twins - he allowed two runs and three hits in the first - Kendrick settled down, yielding one hit in his final three innings of work.

"He pitched good," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He did pretty good. He got off slow, but he regrouped."

Kendrick struck out four and walked one. His counterpart was even better.

Minnesota knuckleballer R.A. Dickey held the Phillies to one hit in three shutout innings while striking out four and walking one. He was one of five Twins pitchers who held the Phillies to one run and five hits overall.

The Phillies didn't score until Eric Bruntlett homered with two outs in the ninth.

"Dickey was very good," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Our defense was a little shaky out there, but we made enough plays when we had to. Our pitchers threw the ball very good - threw the ball over the plate - and that's what we're looking for."

Notes: Park, originally scheduled to start Saturday's game, was an early scratch as he recovers from a left hamstring injury. Park threw a bullpen session in the morning and is slated to start Tuesday against the Blue Jays. ... Phillies 3B Pedro Feliz singled leading off the eighth inning, ending a 0-for-16 stretch in Grapefruit League games. Feliz missed the first two weeks of spring training games while rehabbing from offseason back surgery. ... Philadelphia utility player Greg Dobbs was scratched from the starting lineup with right hamstring soreness. Geoff Jenkins (1-for-3) played in his place.

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