Monday, March 14, 2011
Posted: 10:18 a.m. Updated: 1:49 p.m.By Jim Salisbury and John R. Finger
KISSIMMEE, Fla. It is clear now why Brad Lidges fastball has been garbage this spring.
The Phillies' closer is suffering from biceps tendinitis. He had been scheduled to pitch an inning against Houston on Monday, but stayed back in Clearwater for treatment.
Everyone from the pitcher to pitching coach Rich Dubee to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. downplayed the issue. Lidge has had inflammation in his pitching arm in previous springs and it has subsided with rest and treatment. Last spring, he required a cortisone injection late in camp to flush some swelling from the outer aspect of his elbow. He had another cortisone injection in May. Lidge ended up having a strong second half, converting 21 of 23 save chances after the all-star break.
Lidge said his current issue was normal for this time of year. He said that if this were the regular season he would continue to pitch. He believes the issue will not impact his readiness for opening day.
Just a little biceps tendinitis, the 34-year-old righthander said. Well let it calm down for a couple of days and then see how we feel - maybe play catch for a couple of days and then get back in there soon.
Dubee described the issue as nothing. Amaro barely broke stride as he walked by an open press box door and announced: Biceps soreness. Pushing him back a couple days. Lidge. The GM did not take questions or explain his reluctance to speak in complete sentences.
This is a yearly thing, really, Dubee said. This is his 2011 soreness. He just needs some work on his arm path and arm action.
Dubee indicated that he expected Lidge to miss just a few days and still be ready for opening day. Of course, the Phillies said the same thing about Chase Utleys condition when he was diagnosed with patellar tendinitis. Utley still hasnt played and its unclear when he will. The moral of the story is that injuries are unpredictable.
The irony of Lidges condition is that he came into camp feeling completely healthy for the first time in several years. He had spent last spring working his way back from elbow and knee surgeries. Lidge has made five appearances this spring, but his work has been spotty. He has given up at least a run in four of those appearances. He allowed three hits and two runs in his last outing against Baltimore on Friday. After that game, Lidge said his fastball was garbage. According to scouts, Lidges fastball was in the 86-87 mph range.
To be honest, I felt great coming down here, but sometime after my first outing I felt a little tightness in my shoulder and I tried to throw through it a couple of times, Lidge said. Obviously, it was hard to have great control and improve on arm strength when youre trying to fight through something.
If this was the season Id keep throwing. But right now there are plenty of more outings for me to feel ready and comfortable before the season starts. One advantage of being a reliever in spring training is there are so many games you can pitch in, and there is so much extra time to get ready that if there is something to keep you out a few extra days somewhere along the line, its just standard protocol. You just take the days off. You take all those extra days off to make sure youre throwing 100 percent bullets on April 1. Thats what were doing and I dont anticipate this being anything other than what it is.
Losing Lidge for any time during the regular season would hurt the depth of the Phillies bullpen. Ryan Madson could handle closer duties and Jose Contreras could fill the eighth-inning role, but the Phils could be short leading up to that.
The Phils have won four straight National League East titles and added all-star lefty Cliff Lee in the offseason. It has been said that only injuries could hold this team back this season. A month into spring training, that idea is being tested. Utley is out indefinitely with a right knee injury and top prospect Domonic Brown is shelved with a broken bone in his hand.
Now Lidge is hurting.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org or John R. Finger at email@example.com
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