Dubee: 'Joe's our fifth starter'

Joe Blanton takes a jog around the warning track at Bright House Field in Clearwater. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

The clubhouse at Bright House Field was buzzing again today as pitchers and catchers reported to Clearwater in preparation for tomorrow's opening workout. Among the core group of position players, only Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz are here thus far. The first full-squad workout takes place on Feb. 19, although players will trickle in before then.

Not much in the way of news today.

Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley will get stretched out as starters this spring, but pitching coach Rich Dubee said today there is no competition for the fifth spot in the rotation.

"Joe's our fifth starter," the Phillies' pitching coach said.

Joe, of course, is veteran righthander Joe Blanton, whose future with the Phillies seemed to be up in the air when the club signed Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract in December. But everybody in the organization is talking as if Blanton will definitely start the season with the club.

That means guys like Kendrick and fellow righthander Vance Worley will be competing for a spot in the bullpen.

"I think Kyle could fill a lot of roles for us," Dubee said. "He can be that long guy, he can be a spot starter. That's all stuff we'll sort out as we get into this."

Dubee was asked if the addition of Lee makes his job as a pitching coach easier.

"I was going to bring a recliner to spring training, but I thought I'd better stand on my feet for awhile," he joked, before turning serious. "There's still work to be done. These guys are good professionals and they know themselves, but at times they get out of whack and they need that slight adjustment. There's still growth there. I think Cole Hamels is still growing. I think what we saw out of Cole last year, with the addition of the cutter and more consistent curve ball, Roy Halladay picking up the change-up, Roy Oswalt picking up the change-up on his own last year. These guys are still evolving as pitchers. There's always adjustments to be made. So I think there's still work to be done. We're not going to change anything by any means -- I'm not that dumb. We'll continue to let them be who they are, but there are still adjustments that need to be made."