LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If Cole Hamels misses the first month of the season, the Phillies will need somebody to be their fifth starter.
Jeff Manship and David Buchanan appear to be the top two internal candidates through Tuesday's 9-1 loss to the Braves in a Grapefruit League game at Champion Stadium. Manship has a 1.29 ERA through seven innings, having allowed four hits and one run. Buchanan has a 1.50 ERA through six innings, on three hits and one run.
"Long season as far as pitching goes," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said of Buchanan. "So he's doing a nice job for himself. He's one of the lone bright spots today."
"I grew up watching these guys, and in the past couple years too," said Buchanan, who was born and raised in Georgia. "They have an outstanding lineup. I knew it was going to be a fun time when I went out there."
These early spring performances should have Buchanan feeling a little more confident about his abilities to succeed against big league hitters.
"Coming up, Cliff Lee and all of those guys who came over to the Minor League side always said, 'The biggest thing in pitching is confidence,'" Buchanan said. "That's something you have to have. I've been trying to build that within myself. I asked Cliff, 'How do you have the confidence that you have?' And he just said, 'It's something you have to believe in.'
"So I always believe I can get any hitter out. But at the same time, I know there are good hitters I'm going to have to battle and earn it. That's where most of my work ethic comes from. That's one thing Roy Halladay said, he said he knew every time he went out there, he worked so hard that he had no doubts. He knew everything he did before the start, that he did everything he could do to prepare. So if you can do all you can do, that's all you can ask from yourself."
Other internal candidates are either injured or don't appear ready for prime time. That list includes Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez (hasn't pitched in two years), Jonathan Pettibone (right shoulder) and Ethan Martin (right shoulder).
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.