CLEARWATER, Fla. -- David Buchanan came to Spring Training hoping to learn a few things and impress a few people.
He might not have imagined he would still be here March 20, but he has exceeded expectations, so he has stayed. He started Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays in a Grapefruit League game at Bright House Field, allowing three hits, two runs, one walk and striking out six in four innings. He has a 2.70 ERA in 10 innings, striking out nine and walking two.
"Every day I'm here is a privilege," Buchanan said.
It remains to be seen how Buchanan fits into the team's short-term plans. Cole Hamels will open the season on the disabled list, but the Phillies will need a fifth starter on April 14. Buchanan could be a candidate for that job.
The Phillies could use a long man in the bullpen, and Buchanan could fill that role, but they might prefer he pitches on a regular schedule in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies used 10 starters last season, so they would like to have some options once a need arises.
"Everybody is asking me what's going on," Buchanan said. "It comes through texts and phone calls and stuff. I pretty much tell them the same thing ... I don't know. I try not to worry about it. I'm having a blast doing what I'm doing, and regardless of what happens, I had a great time here. I'm going to continue to enjoy it until the day comes when they tell me where I'm going."
Ruf strains oblique, to be re-evaluated Friday
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies had a split quad Thursday with half the team traveling to Kissimmee to play the Astros.
The afternoon ended prematurely in Kissimmee for Phillies outfielder Darin Ruf.
He suffered a strained left oblique, which if serious jeopardizes his chances to make the Opening Day roster. Chase Utley spent nearly a month on the disabled list last season with a strained oblique, and Carlos Ruiz spent three weeks on the DL in 2009 with the same injury.
Ruf will be evaluated again Friday.
"We'll have to see what that means," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's a guy competing with what he's doing and his abilities as a right-handed bat."
Ruf had been competing for a bench job alongside outfielders John Mayberry Jr., Bobby Abreu and Tony Gwynn Jr. Catcher Wil Nieves and infielder Freddy Galvis are locks to make the bench.
Abreu had a big game Thursday in Kissimmee, going 3-for-4 with a double. He also threw out a runner at the plate. He is hitting .281 (9-for-32) with three doubles, one triple, nine walks and a .452 on-base percentage. Gwynn went 2-for-3 with a double in Clearwater and is hitting .346 (9-for-26) with three doubles, one RBI, six walks, two stolen bases and a .500 on-base percentage.
Both Abreu and Gwynn hit left-handed.
Asked if the Phillies could carry two left-handed hitting outfielders, Sandberg said, "It's possible, as long as we have a right-handed bat on the bench."
It might not be an issue the first couple weeks of the season. The Phillies could carry an extra bench player with no need for a fifth starter until April 14. Mayberry, who hits right-handed, is hitting .265 (9-for-34) with three doubles, two home runs and five RBIs. He signed a guaranteed one-year, $1.59 million deal before the season, so that could come into play. But the Phillies have been trying to trade him for months, without success.
Frandsen, who also hits right-handed, is hitting .182 (6-for-33) with two RBIs. He has a guaranteed one-year, $900,000 contract, but he holds value as a utility infielder and pinch-hitter. He led the big leagues with 14 pinch-hits last season.
• Right-hander Phillippe Aumont threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings Thursday in Clearwater, more than he is accustomed to throwing. He allowed two hits and three walks.
"Just work into the delivery, work into throwing strikes," pitching coach Bob McClure said. "I wanted to see him mix it up a little more, see him use his breaking ball a little more, which he did. I'm trying to get him to understand that you don't have to throw max effort all the time to be effective. I just don't know if he can do that throwing one inning every time."
Aumont has walked seven and struck out one in 10 1/3 innings.
• Right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez received a cortisone injection into his right shoulder Thursday. He has been sidelined with soreness.
• Domonic Brown did not play Thursday because of the flu.
• Infielder Freddy Galvis remains sidelined after having an abscess removed from his left knee Wednesday. He is expected to rest at least through Friday.
"We'll see if he gets back into action over the weekend," Sandberg said.
• Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game Saturday. He is recovering from right shoulder inflammation.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.