KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -The Phillies are hoping Kyle Kendrick can be this year's version of J.A. Happ.
Kendrick lost the competition with 47-year-old lefty Jamie Moyer for the fifth starter position in Philadelphia's rotation on Tuesday when his outing against Houston was cut short after two innings.
Michael Bourn had four hits, including two doubles and a triple, Carlos Lee had two hits and four RBI and Bud Norris struck out seven as the Houston Astros beat the Phillies 5-2.
``He's on the team but he's going to the bullpen,' manager Charlie Manuel said of Kendrick. ``I've seen a lot of improvement in his pitching this last year. He had a real good spring and I'm sure he's going to get to pitch quite a bit this year.'
Kendrick allowed a run on two hits in two innings of work before Manuel decided to break the news to him. He struck out one and walked one.
``I just got to stay ready,' Kendrick said. ``I love starting and I think I can be a good starter. But right now, if it's in the pen, we'll go from there and help us win.'
Last year, Happ began the season in the bullpen, but ended up making 23 starts and winning 12 games while posting a 2.93 ERA and tossing 166 innings.
Kendrick is hoping to follow the same path.
``I worked on my secondary pitches and got some confidence going last year in the minor leagues,' Kendrick said.
Kendrick posted a 1.66 ERA with eight strikeouts in six outings and 21 2-3 innings this spring.
Moyer has been impressive as well and has a few decades of experience under his belt. In two starts, Moyer has a 0.77 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 11 2-3 innings this spring.
``Jamie proved he's healthy,' pitching coach Rich Dubee said ``That was the biggest question coming into spring training, how he was going to come back from the surgeries.'
Moyer had three offseason surgeries (knee, groin and abdominal), but he'll once again be a starter in his 24th big league season.
The Astros named Matt Lindstrom their closer. The hard-throwing right-hander walked two and gave up a hit, but struck out two and ran his scoreless streak up to 8 2-3 innings.
Lindstrom's competition for the spot, Brandon Lyon, has been behind all spring after having a cyst drained from his throwing shoulder.
Also, the Astros sent catching prospect Jason Castro down to minor league camp, essentially handing the everyday job to J.R. Towles.
``I think the way he's handled himself this spring has been very good,' manager Brad Mills said. ``We're looking forward to the things he has to offer and bring to the ballclub. (Castro) showed why he is the prospect he is. There's no reason to think by his performance this spring that he's not going to be a solid major league catcher for a long time.'
Humberto Quintero is the only other catcher on the team's roster.
NOTES: Astros 1B Lance Berkman dressed for the game and took live batting practice. The team didn't give an update on his surgically repaired left knee, simply stating that he's progressing. ... Astros ace Roy Oswalt is scheduled to make his last start of the spring Wednesday vs. Atlanta. Oswalt received an injection in his back on Monday in Houston after leaving his start on March 26 vs. the Pirates with tightness in his left hamstring.
The Associated Press News Service
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