After unveiling the newest member of the Phillies' bullpen last week, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. enunciated the team's latest pitching problem.
Jamie Moyer won't be ready to pitch by opening day.
Moyer, a 47-year-old left-hander, underwent groin/abdominal surgery in October, then had a second procedure a few days before Thanksgiving to correct a complication. And on January 11, he was scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery to fix the meniscus in his right knee.
Thus, Moyer likely won't be recovered in time to claim the fifth starter's job in spring training, leaving Kyle Kendrick as the odds-on favorite. Other candidates: Class AAA right-hander Drew Carpenter and recently signed journeyman Ryan Vogelsong, who spent the past three seasons in Japan.
"If we have our druthers," Amaro said, "we'll perhaps sign somebody else."
With the 2010 payroll already nearing the Phillies' $140 million threshold, finances - and options - are slim. Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ are the top four starters. To round out the rotation, the Phillies could turn to a pitcher who is trying to return from injuries.
Amaro admitted the team has touched base with representatives for right-handers Chien-Ming Wang and Ben Sheets. But indications are that their asking price has been out of the Phillies' desired range, and unless the market for them shrivels, it's unlikely they will wind up in Philadelphia.
Pedro Martinez, who signed with the Phillies last July and started two games in the World Series, also remains a possibility, although it appears the sides aren't close to agreeing on salary numbers.
For now, Amaro will continue bargain-hunting.
Asked how he anticipates adding depth to the pitching staff, Amaro said, "Probably (with) a minor league deal, at this point, a player who is anticipating getting a major league deal, and quite frankly, the market isn't out there for them."
The schedule may play in the Phillies' favor, too. With several days off early in the season, the Phillies likely won't need a fifth starter until April 24, by which time Moyer may be ready.