Lidge, returning from two surgeries, throws off mound
Brad Lidge’s first bullpen session of the spring drew plenty of
observers. Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel wasn’t one of them.
“The hitters are here,” pitching coach Rich Dubee joked.
While Manuel watched Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and other
Phillies take their cuts, Lidge took his first step toward
returning from offseason surgeries on his elbow and knee.
“We have to build some arm strength first, and the rest of my
body is doing great,” Lidge said Monday. “I feel happy about that
Lidge threw 20 pitches — all fastballs — off a mound. Dubee
said the closer will probably take two days off before throwing
“Brad looked fine,” Dubee said. “One thing we want to make
sure is he doesn’t skip from step one to step five.”
It’s far too early to know whether Lidge will be ready when
the NL champion Phillies open the season at Washington on April 5.
Lidge said last week he was two weeks behind schedule, but he’s
“I’d say I’m right about the same,” he said. “I feel I’m
right ahead of that two weeks. With the bullpen today, I kind of
stayed right there. I didn’t come out and feel 100 percent. That
being said, nothing hurts and I was able to use my body in the way
I was hoping to this year without having any pain or side effects.
It’s all about building arm strength now and I’m going to have to
do a lot of work to get that.”
Lidge was a perfect 48 for 48 in save chances in 2008,
helping the Phillies win the World Series. But he led the majors
with 11 blown saves last year and finished 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA in
the regular season.
Injuries were certainly a factor in Lidge’s decline. The knee
pain caused him to change his mechanics. He put more pressure on
his right arm, leading to the elbow problem.
Lidge bounced back in the first two rounds of the playoffs,
going 1-0 with three saves in as many tries. He didn’t allow a run
in five appearances and gave up just one hit in four innings.
But he struggled in his only outing against the New York
Yankees in the World Series. He gave up three runs in the ninth in
a 7-4 loss in Game 4 as the Yankees took a 3-1 series lead. They
won in six games.
“I tried this winter not to think at all about what I was
doing in 2009 and instead getting back to just driving the ball
like I did in 2008 and every year before,” Lidge said. “Fortunately
for me that muscle memory seemed to pick up right away and today I
was able to do that off a mound.”