Lidge targeting Wednesday or Thursday for return to Grapefruit League action

I am closer, hear me roar!The report from Brad Lidge continues to be positive. We caught up with the Phillies closer a few minutes after he completed the next big step in his recovery from knee surgery -- facing live hitters -- and he said he thinks he could make his first Grapefruit League appearance of the spring by the middle of next week.

Lidge faced about 10 hitters and threw about 35 pitches, looking very sharp. He said he felt no pain in his knee, which he re-injured three weeks ago Saturday in a live batting practice session. Lidge had arthroscopic surgery Feb. 25 in Philadelphia.

"I honestly feel like I could go out in games right now and face guys but I know they obviously want to make sure I can work through drills and stuff and be able to field my position before I go out into a game," said Lidge, acquired in an offseason trade with Houston.

Assuming he builds up enough lateral strength to field, Lidge said he thinks he could pitch in a game Wednesday or Thursday. He'll definitely throw one more controlled practice session on Monday before working toward his first live appearance.

Today was the first time Lidge faced hitters since injuring the knee almost three weeks ago.

"It gets you back in the groove of game situations," Lidge said. "Throwing a bullpen, you can say that looked like a good pitch, but you don’t really know until you see a hitter react to it. That’s what you kind of need when you are facing hitters."