03/24/07 6:31 PM ET
Notes: Veteran Lieber feeling the strain
Righty has sore right oblique; news is good on Garcia, Ruiz
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
Pitcher Jon Lieber was the third patient to stop by the Carpenter Complex on Saturday, where team doctor Michael Ciccotti diagnosed him with a mild strain of his right oblique muscle. The right-hander felt discomfort during Friday's workout.
Lieber has begun treatments, though the team isn't sure how long he'll be out.
Ciccotti also examined Garcia and Ruiz and confirmed earlier diagnoses. Each has mild tendinitis of the right biceps muscle. Garcia's is on the side, while Ruiz's is near the front.
Garcia said he made 20 tosses off flat ground on Saturday morning, and he will throw again on Sunday. The Phillies hope he will be able to take a turn in the rotation during the first week of the season, especially now that they may not have Lieber as insurance.
"I'm fine," Garcia said. "It's not a big deal. It's soreness in the tendon."
While he expects to be ready by Opening Day, Garcia isn't sure when he'll pitch next. If the Phillies target April 8 -- the first time a fifth starter is required -- Garcia could start a Minor League game on March 29, followed by an extended Spring Training game on April 3. In that scenario, he could begin the season on the disabled list, retroactive to March 21, and be activated on April 8. That would allow Philadelphia to carry an extra reliever or bench player for the first week.
"We'll know more when they get into their baseball activities," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We feel pretty confident that he should be ready for his first turn in the rotation, but that will be up to the coaches and the manager."
Garcia appreciates the concern, but as a pitcher who has tossed at least 200 innings in seven of his eight Major League seasons, he doesn't see a reason to worry.
"They told me to take my time because they don't want to rush me," Garcia said. "I want to be healthy to help the team. You have to know your body. I do."
Ruiz was equally relieved after hearing the good news. When he felt something while throwing on Wednesday, he could barely lift his shoulder. Three days later, he feels much better.
"I'm happy, because I was scared it was something bad," Ruiz said. "But I feel good. This was good news."
Ruiz, who will play catch on Sunday, also hopes he will be ready for the season.
"I hope," he said. "I want to be ready to help my team."
Philling in: Chris Coste has been slowed by a bout with strep throat, but his strained right hamstring feels better. ... Manuel said Aaron Rowand, who was given two days off to clear his head, will likely play Sunday against the Twins. Rowand worked out at Bright House Networks Field on Saturday.
Quotable: "I'm not worried about our offense with the guys that we've got now. This was kind of like a dead game for us. We didn't hit, and when you don't hit, you don't look good. You have down periods, and we have about a week to get going." -- manager Charlie Manuel, whose team mustered six singles in a 7-0 loss to the Reds on Saturday
Up next: Cole Hamels makes his fourth Grapefruit League outing vs. the Twins on Sunday at Bright House Networks Field at 1:05 p.m. ET. The lefty is still trying to find his rhythm, and he has been working on pitching inside. Though his line didn't verify this, pitching coach Rich Dubee said he saw some positive signs after Hamels' Minor League outing on Tuesday. Righty Ramon Ortiz is scheduled to start for the Twins.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.