PHILADELPHIA -- Kyle Kendrick was the obvious choice to step into the rotation on short notice against the D-backs on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. His versatility is part of what makes him valuable. And it really came in handy when Joe Blanton was traded just a few hours before his scheduled start.
That doesn't necessarily mean Kendrick will become a full-time starter in 2013. Heck, it doesn't even guarantee that he'll get the assignment next time that spot rolls around, although there's no apparent option at the moment.
"I don't know what it means," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "I have no idea what will happen."
In his first start since July 6, Kendrick threw 63 pitches in four innings of what turned out to be a 4-2 loss to the D-backs. He gave up five hits and three runs, two of them earned. He came into the game with a 21-inning scoreless streak that ended when Justin Upton blasted a solo homer with one out in the second.
Charlie Manuel talked about Kendrick increasing his pitch count next time out, but hedged slightly when asked if that meant he'll be starting for the rest of the season.
"Right now, that's what we've got," Manuel said. "We've got to have five starters."
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. dismissed the idea that Kendrick was auditioning for next season.
"I don't think so," he said. "I think Kyle knows his role. He's going to get an opportunity to pitch. We'll see. His best role for us may still be to pitch out of the bullpen. He's pitched great out of the bullpen. And that may be his best place."
Said Kendrick: "I had gotten into a little groove, you could say. I definitely was throwing good out of the bullpen. But I'm happy to be starting again, that's for sure. I think they already know a lot about me. I just have to go out there and pitch good. That's the main thing. Maybe teams, not just this team, see that [versatility]. It doesn't do anything but help. But obviously, I want to be in the rotation somewhere for a long time."
Things have been changing quickly around the Phillies this week. Somebody will have to start against the Braves next Wednesday, but the way things are going, anything's possible. Amaro made it clear he's still working the phones, looking for possible waiver deals, putting in claims on players he thinks could make the Phillies better.
Meanwhile, at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, right-hander Tyler Cloyd improved his record to 11-1 by beating Pawtucket on Thursday. He allowed one run on three hits in seven innings, lowering his International League-leading ERA to 1.93. The 25-year-old is 14-1 with a 1.91 ERA in 22 overall starts between Double-A Reading and the IronPigs.
"He's on the radar screen," Amaro said. "Obviously, he's pitched very well for us. He just needs to keep pitching well and stay on the radar screen."
Added Manuel: "I'm sure sooner or later, from what they say about the kid, we're going to see him. From what I hear of him, he cuts his fastball. If you're looking at him to light the radar gun up, you're not going to see that evidently. I've been checking on him. At the same time, he's going to get a shot eventually."
No matter what role Kendrick is in next season, rebuilding the bullpen will be a priority for the Phillies this winter. And there were indications Friday night that that process may already be under way.
Jeremy Horst, B.J. Rosenberg and Antonio Bastardo combined to throw four hitless innings in relief of Kendrick. Josh Lindblom retired three straight in the ninth after giving up a second-deck homer to Jason Kubel.
"The bullpen did a good job at the end there," Manuel said. "We had some guys who had clean innings. That's a good sign."
That also allowed the Phillies to stay in the game. In fact, it looked as though they had tied it in the bottom of the sixth on Kevin Frandsen's two-out single to right with John Mayberry Jr. on second. Mayberry appeared to slide in under the throw from Upton. But home-plate umpire Jim Wolf called him out. The replay indicated that Mayberry was, in fact, safe.
The Phillies weren't in a position to blame a bad call, though, since they twice had runners doubled off in the early innings and went just 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
"We had chances to score but, of course, we didn't get a big hit," Manuel said. "We made some mistakes, some baserunning mistakes."
Kendrick was the obvious choice to start in Blanton's place, but there's not much else that looks clear cut about what the Phillies will do for the rest of the season.
"There are only a handful of guys who have been around since [the Phillies won the World Series in 2008]," Kendrick noted. "It's crazy. We're obviously going in a different direction now, trying to get younger. That's what it looks like. So I'm playing with some new guys. It's obviously been a trying year. We've still got two months left, though. And we've got to battle to the end, try to win some ballgames."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.