Buchholz hangs tough in rematch with rivals

Buchholz hangs tough in rematch with rivals

TAMPA, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Clay Buchholz can't get away from the American League East.

Buchholz made his fourth Grapefruit League start on Wednesday night in a 3-1 loss to the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. It was his second consecutive start against the Yankees, and his third this spring against the AL East. Buchholz, who pitched for 10 seasons with the Red Sox before being traded to the Phillies in December, faced the Orioles in late February.

Buchholz (5.40 ERA this spring) allowed five hits, two runs (one earned), two walks and one strikeout in five innings. He allowed a home run to Yankees first baseman Greg Bird in the second inning.

"He was still a little out in front, but he's a big strong dude, and when they put the barrel on it, it's going to go," Buchholz said. "That would have really been way back in Yankee Stadium, so, I'm glad it was here."

Buchholz pitched in the chilliest conditions of the spring. It was 58 degrees at first pitch, but it felt colder.

Not that anybody in Florida is complaining.

But maybe it was a tune up for next month when Buchholz might be pitching in cooler temperatures on the East Coast.

"In the northeast, everybody knows the first month, month and a half, the weather is not going to be your friend," he said.

Lefty battle
Left-handers and non-roster invitees Sean Burnett and Cesar Ramos each pitched an inning on Wednesday. Burnett (2.35 ERA in 7 2/3 innings this spring) allowed one hit, one unearned run and one walk. Ramos (2.35 ERA in 7 2/3 innings) struck out one in a scoreless frame.

Only one or two non-roster invitees are expected to make the Opening Day roster, so Burnett and Ramos are in a tough competition for a bullpen job. Left-handers Joely Rodriguez and Adam Morgan are on the 40-man roster, giving them an advantage.

"They each have their different strengths," manager Pete Mackanin said of Ramos and Burnett. "Ramos has four pitches. He's got good command. I love Burnett's sinker. I love his changeup. He's got to show good command. We've got Joely and Morgan. So it's going to be a tough decision all the way around."

Venditte arrives
Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte is expected to join spring camp on Thursday. The Phillies acquired him last week in a trade with the Mariners, who received Minor League outfielder Joey Curletta. Venditte had a combined 3.74 ERA in 30 games for Triple-A Buffalo and Tacoma last season. He has a career 4.97 ERA in the Majors in 41 games for the A's, Blue Jays and Mariners.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.