Brad Lidge hasn't pitched in a game since May 9, when he picked up his first save of the season. But that could change by the end of this road trip, assuming the veteran closer continues his forward progress. After throwing 25 fastballs in a bullpen session yesterday, his first since a cortisone injection into his elbow last Monday, Lidge said he believed that he was on pace to return to the active roster by the Phillies' three-game series in atlanta that begins a week from today.
"They haven't let me get that far in planning," Lidge said, "but it does look that way."
Lidge missed most of the first month of the season while finishing his recovery from offseason flexor tendon surgery (his knee was also repaired in a separate procedure), returning on April 30 against the Mets and allowing two hits, one of them a solo home run, and recording one out.
In three subsequent appearances, Lidge threw three scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out three. Against the Cardinals on May 4 he inherited a tie game in the ninth inning and the go-ahead run on second and proceeded to record three outs, allowing his only baserunner on an intentional walk. Five days later, he pitched a perfect ninth inning against the Braves while recording his first save of the year in a 5-3 win.
But Lidge was already battling tenderness in his elbow against the Braves, when he allowed two hard-hit fly outs. He tried to play catch two days later in Colorado, but was unable to throw without pain at 65-to-70 feet.
The Phillies placed him on the disabled list later in the week and turned the closing duties over to righthander Jose Contreras, who enters tonight having allowed just one run, eight hits and two walks while striking out 20 in 14.1 innings pitched.
Contreras has recorded two saves since Lidge went back on the disabled list, but hasn't pitched in a game since May 20 against the Cubs.
Jimmy Rollins, J.A. Happ and Ryan Madson are all scheduled to head to Clearwater this week to continue their respective rehab programs at the Phillies' spring training complex.
Madson is sidelined until at least July with a broken foot.
Happ and the Phillies are hoping for a mid-to-late June return from a forearm strain, although his exact future depends on how he responds to each marginal step of progression in his program.
Rollins' calf strain isn't expected to keep him out as long as the one he suffered on April 12, which led to a five-week stay on the disabled list.