Oberholtzer continues to post zeros

Phillies lefty in competition for final spot in rotation

Oberholtzer continues to post zeros

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Brett Oberholtzer sent a few text messages back and forth with his father Monday afternoon at McKechnie Field.

Oberholtzer had just pitched three scoreless innings in the Phillies' 1-0 victory over the Pirates, giving him five scoreless innings in two spring appearances. They are exactly the performances he needs as he competes to win a rotation job.

Spring: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

"I told him I feel a lot better this spring than any other as far as being prepared to pitch at the big league level," Oberholtzer said. "Not saying I'm hitting my stride by any means, I don't think any of us are, but it feels great to be able to execute the majority of my pitches. I like contact. For me quick outs, not so many pitches, is a great thing. I take pride in trying to go late in the game."

Oberholtzer followed Vince Velasquez, who also is competing for a rotation job. They offer different looks. Velasquez is a hard-throwing right-hander, while Oberholtzer is a left-hander with a fastball that has averaged 89.6 mph over the past three seasons, according to FanGraphs.

"I like the way he attacks the zone," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said about Oberholtzer. "He's an aggressive pitcher. Everything I've seen so far, I like."

Oberholtzer picks off Ramirez

Oberholtzer prefers to start, but if the first four spots in the rotation go to Aaron Nola, Jeremy Hellickson, Jerad Eickhoff and Charlie Morton and Velasquez edges him for the No. 5 job, he would be expected to open the season in the bullpen.

Oberholtzer is out of options and it would be a stunner if the Phils risked losing him to another team.

"I'm prepared for any role and any opportunity I get," he said. "I guess later in spring we'll find out a little bit more, but right now I can only do what I can do."

He also is keeping an open mind. He knows if he pitches well, an opportunity to start should come at some point. Teams don't play an entire season using only five starters.

"I've thought about that, too," he said. "Maybe just being a bullpen guy then the first opportunity comes [to start]."

Whitey returns

Phillies utility infielder Andres Blanco played his first Grapefruit League game after being sidelined with a sore right shoulder. He went 2-for-3 and produced the game's only run with a single in the seventh inning.

Back in Clearwater

The Phillies played Keio University, a college team from Japan, at Bright House Field. Phillies right-hander David Buchanan allowed four hits, two unearned runs, one walk and struck out two in three innings.

"I felt good," Buchanan told a pool reporter. "The arm felt good. I felt the ball was coming out well. I was keeping pitches down in the zone on both sides of the plate. I was throwing strikes. I felt great. They hit some balls that found holes, but I felt great."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.