The signs were foreboding. Brad Lidge, normally the most approachable of players, left Bright House Field without speaking after pitching in a big league game for the first time in two weeks Thursday. Usually optimistic, the Phillies closer appeared dejected.
So it wasn’t surprising when Lidge stood in front of his locker early Friday morning and admitted that increased pain in the back of his right shoulder means he won’t be ready to pitch when the Phillies open the regular season against the Astros on Friday.
Earlier this spring he had been sidelined by biceps tendinitis, but this latest development is new and potentially more serious.
He’ll be examined by team Dr. Michael Ciccotti in Clearwater on Saturday and is expected to undergo an MRI at the Rothman Institute after the team returns to Philadelphia on Monday night.
“I’m a little concerned because I haven’t had shoulder problems in the past,” he admitted. “That being said, there’s other things in there you can have that can be a byproduct of just straining it and they’re not serious. That’s obviously what I’m counting on right now, to be honest.”
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said it’s almost a certainty that Lidge will open the season on the disabled list. Second baseman Chase Utley and outfielder Domonic Brown already appear headed to the DL.
“We don’t think it’s going to be a longterm issue, but it could be,” Amaro said. “We’ll have to adjust. We haven’t made any decisions on who will be closing yet. (Jose) Contreras and (Ryan) Madson would be the candidates, for me. This is all part of the game. Nobody wants any injuries, but we’ll deal with it. It’s just stuff that happens.”
Lidge struck out the first two Twins batters he faced in the ninth inning on Thursday then gave up a home run, a single and two walks before Mike Zagurski came in to get the final out.
“I don’t know if that’s a bad sign. I know I wish there was no pain,” Lidge said. “There was always a little bit of pain in the back that we thought was from the biceps tendinitis. But there is that. I’m not really familiar with that. I’ve never had shoulder issues before, at least not for a long time. So I’m not familiar with the discomfort and pain I’ve been having.
“We’re obviously hoping it just needs a little more time. I think the step of trying to get from 80 to 85 percent or wherever I was at or 90 to 100 percent, I’m not able to do it right now. So we’ve got to make sure that whatever we do this time we’re able to get past that and when I come back I can get there comfortably.”
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