Charlie Manuel addressed the media an hour ago. As expected, the topic of conversation centered around Brad Lidge, whom Manuel removed from the game with the bases loaded and the ninth inning last night.
Is Lidge still the Phillies' closer?
"I'm going to sit down somewhere along the way and talk to him and whatever," Manuel said. "I'm getting kind of tired of it if you want to know the truth, really. I am. And the reason is, I figure I can put him in the game when I want to. I've been very loyal to him and stuck with him and I've done everything I think possible to get him going. There's no way I ever want to lie to him. Like I told you last night, I don't do that, and I don't have a history of doing that. But at the same time, we're going to win the game. And the best way to win the game, and that includes Brad is not out there to close, then I guess that's going to be my decision. Now, we are going to play to win the game. Our team is definitely not about the one guy. And I'm sure he feels that way. It's very important that we get him straight and right, but at the same time we're going to play to win the game."
It's pretty easy to read in between the lines there. But keep in mind that there is no rule that requires Manuel to designate a "closer." It isn't a quarterback or a starting pitcher. In the end, the Phillies' closer is whoever Manuel calls upon in the ninth inning of a tight game. Last night, Lidge got the first whack at it, but Madson ended up being the closer.
Remember last season, when Ryan Madson pitched his way into the eighth inning down the stretch? At no time did Manuel announce that Madson was his set-up man. He proved capable of the job, and ended up pitching the eighth inning in the playoffs. There's a good chance you won't know who the Phillies closer is until the ninth inning each night. Manuel did not rule out Lidge as a possibility in the team's next save situation. But he didn't rule out Madson and Myers either.
Scott Eyre will see team doctor Michael Ciccotti tomorrow, at which point the Phillies should learn more about the source of his elbow pain and how long he might be sidelined for.
Manuel said that he was leaning toward starting Pedro Martinez in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader against the Mets, and that Kendrick was a strong possibility for the first game. Jamie Moyer will likely pitch Saturday in place of J.A. Happ, who will miss the start with a mild muscle strain in his rib cage.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee all but dismissed the idea of starting Cliff Lee on short rest in the doubleheader. He called the chances of such a move "minor."
Unless something unexpected occurs, it looks like Kendrick will get his first meaningful big league start since late last season on Sunday.