Pirates-Phillies rained out

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Philadelphia Phillies canceled their exhibition game Sunday against a Pittsburgh Pirates split-squad because of rain, but have yet to announce a resolution to the fifth starter race.

With a week to go before opening the season in Washington, veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer and right-hander Kyle Kendrick remain locked in a battle for a final spot in the team's rotation.

"I have not made a decision, we have not made a decision yet," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "When we do, when we tell the players, everybody will know."

Joe Blanton, who was scheduled to pitch Sunday, will now pitch in a minor league game Monday. Moyer and Kendrick won't pitch until later in the week -- Tuesday for Kendrick, Friday for Moyer -- but both made strides in their most recent outings.

The 25-year-old Kendrick, who spent most of 2009 in the minors, outpitched former teammate Brett Myers, allowing one earned run in 5 2/3 innings against the Houston Astros Thursday. The 47-year-old Moyer, coming off three surgeries in the offseason, allowed one hit in 6 2/3 shutout innings against the New York Yankees on Friday.

Moyer has a 0.77 ERA in two Grapefruit League games. If you include three 'B' games he pitched in earlier this month, he has a 2.61 ERA overall this spring. Kendrick has allowed three earned runs on 12 hits in 19 2/3 innings over five games, good enough for a spring ERA of 1.37.

"It's great ... I love it. What's wrong with that?" Amaro said of what appears to be a difficult decision. "Both guys have pitched great. Our whole rotation has been very steady. I'm very pleased in now they've thrown and hopefully that bodes well for the start of the season."

The Phillies will open the season on April 5 with new ace Roy Halladay making his debut. Halladay was acquired in the December blockbuster series of trades between Philadelphia, Toronto, Seattle and Oakland.

After Halladay, former World Series MVP Cole Hamels will pitch, following by Blanton and second-year left-hander J.A. Happ. Whether Kendrick or Moyer follows, the loser of the fifth starter's race will almost certainly have a job in the bullpen.

"They've both pitched out of the bullpen (before)," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. It's not something that's going to be completely foreign to either one of them."

Game notes
Philadelphia LH reliever J.C. Romero will make his spring debut Monday when he pitched in a minor league game in Clearwater. Romero, who underwent elbow surgery in October, still expects to join the team in mid-April. ... Philadelphia OF Raul Ibanez was out of the lineup Sunday after getting hit in the pitch in the right elbow Friday. Manager Charlie Manuel believes Ibanez will be able to play Monday. ... The Phillies optioned OF John Mayberry Jr. to minor league camp and reassigned INF Ozzie Chavez and C Dane Sardinha to minor league camp.