CLEARWATER, Fla. - There's about to be another "Chooch" in town.

Carlos Ruiz was excused from spring training Monday to attend the birth of his latest child, a boy also named Carlos. Father and son have different middle names. Ruiz also has an 8-year- old son named Carlos, his agent said yesterday.

Ruiz, whose popularity in Philadelphia has exploded over the last three seasons, is expected back in camp tomorrow.

Veteran backup Brian Schneider took his place behind the plate in the Phillies' 6-5 loss to the Orioles yesterday. The game featured back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning by Rule 5 draft pick Michael Martinez and outfielder John Mayberry Jr.

Roy Oswalt made his spring debut, allowing one run on a couple of hits and a walk in two innings.

Ryan Howard looked as if he hit his first spring home run in the first inning, but a steady wind knocked the ball down and Orioles rightfielder Randy Winn was unable to make a leaping catch at the wall. It ended up as an RBI double.

Chance encounter

Roy Oswalt and lefty Cliff Lee, the two newest additions to the Phillies' rotation, have become fast friends. Both pitchers are avid hunters, and this spring they have sneaked away from camp on a couple of occasions to go fishing.

"I knew he was from Mississippi, and I knew he was a redneck, so I figured I'd get along with him," said Lee, who hails from Arkansas.

The two pitchers actually met briefly several years ago, when both were in Philadelphia undergoing surgeries, Oswalt for a groin injury and Lee for a hernia.

"We were so drugged up coming out of anesthesia I don't even remember," Oswalt said. "I remember a guy being in there with me. I didn't know it was him at the time. He told me that he remembered me . . . I remember he pitched for Cleveland. I never remembered his name. I remember just leaving. When I woke up, I felt like I could leave the hospital, so I told the doctor and walked out. He was going to walk out, too, and he stood up and said, 'No, I think I'm going to stay here.' So I left. But we talked for an hour or 2, and that was the first time I ever met him until we came back here."


Lefthander Antonio Bastardo, whose progression was delayed by a case of elbow inflammation this winter, is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut tomorrow against Pittsburgh in Bradenton . . . The Phillies won't face veteran Boston righthander Josh Beckett today in Fort Myers. Beckett was struck on the head by a batted ball in batting practice on Monday and continues to suffer from concussion symptoms. He will be replaced by righthanded prospect Stolmy Pimentel . . . Scheduled to pitch today against Boston: lefthander Cole Hamels and righthanders Scott Mathieson and Brian Schlitter. *