LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Phillies needed a starter to fill in for veteran Aaron Harang, who was scratched for the second time this spring with lower back discomfort, against the Tigers on Saturday at Joker Marchant Stadium. Enter right-hander Paul Clemens, a non-roster invitee who pitched for the Astros last season.
The hope, of course, is that Philadelphia won't need long-term replacements for Harang or Cliff Lee, who has been sidelined with renewed left elbow inflammation after missing the last two months of the 2014 season. But the club also has to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
And that's why the 27-year-old Clemens was so disappointed that he gave up three earned runs on three hits and four walks in 2 1/3 innings of what turned out to be a 5-4 Phillies win.
"We need those guys healthy. But it opens a door to show what I can do," Clemens said. "This was a great opportunity to really show that I can work deep into a ballgame. We jumped on them early. So today was a great opportunity that I let slip away. That's tough to swallow. I'm confident in what I can do. I know what I bring to the table."
Clemens was unable to locate his fastball, which meant he was pitching behind during much of his outing.
"It was pretty brutal actually. When you're not getting ahead of the guys, you're in for a long day," he said. "I was consistently behind guys, putting guys on base without them earning it. Makes it rough, makes it tough. I felt good with my stuff, but I couldn't command my fastball the way that I should have."
Said manager Ryne Sandberg: "He's shown some good things in his outings as far as hanging in there and making a pitch and not getting rattled. But for him to be able to throw strike one would go a long way with what he has on the mound, so that's something he needs to improve on."
The Phillies didn't provide updates on Lee or Harang on Saturday. Cole Hamels and Jerome Williams are the only other starters penciled into the rotation at the moment, although David Buchanan appears to have an inside track on a spot. Other options include Kevin Slowey and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.