Lidge returns from shoulder soreness; Castillo arrives

Brad Lidge, pictured earlier this spring, returned to the mound for minor-league action today. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Brad Lidge returned to the mound for the first time in 11 days Tuesday afternoon by pitching a scoreless inning in a minor-league game at the Carpenter Complex.

Facing minor-leaguers from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Lidge threw 16 pitches -- 12 for strikes -- and allowed one hit.

"It actually felt really good," said Lidge, who had been sidelined by biceps tendinitis since a March 11 outing against Baltimore. "I kind of thought I was a hair tenative right at the beginning, then everything started to feel good and I was able to throw all my stuff."

Lidge threw more sliders than fastballs and the velocity on his fastball topped out at 87 mph, but he was encouraged by the angle of his fastball.

"One thing that was really hard for me to do before this game was throw my fastball down," Lidge said. "I kept leaving them up and my shoulder feels to the point now where I can angle my fastball again and really for me that's the most important part of my pitching.

"Obviously command and velocity are good, but for me if I have good angle on my fastball down, then I can get people to swing at my slider and that's one thing I was able to do today and I felt really good about that."

If all goes well Wednesday, Lidge said he expects to throw in the Phillies Grapefruit League game Thursday against Minnesota.

In other news, second baseman Luis Castillo arrived at Bright House Field and described his late arrival as a "miscommunication."

"I think it was about communication between me and my agent," Castillo said. "I think I have to report (Tuesday)."

After being limited to 86 games with the New York Mets last season because of a foot injury, Castillo declared himself healthy.

"This year I feel more in shape than five years ago," the 35-year-old second baseman said. "Now I'm fine and I'll give you everything I have in the field. I want to show people and the fans I can play. I want to compete and win the job. I have almost 10 days to prove it."

Castillo had been in manager Charlie Manuel's lineup for Tuesday's game against Toronto, but was scratched when he did not show up in the morning. He is expected to make his debut in a Phillies uniform Wednesday against Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte.

He said he wants to put his turbulent Mets experience behind him and prove he can still play the game. The opinion of a lot of big-league scouts is that he cannot play any more.

"It bothers me a little bit," Castillo said. "Now I have an opportunity to show I can still play and that's why I'm here and that's what I'm going to do."

Castillo said his foot injury played a huge role in his unproductive 2010 season when he hit .235 and fell into disfavor with Mets fans.

"I lost almost like two months and I wasn't ready," Castillo said. "When you're hurt, it's hard to play baseball. I want to forget about everything that happened last year and focus on this year."

Asked if he thought he had to repair his reputation as a player, Castillo said this chance with the Phillies made him feel like a rookie again.

You can read more about Lidge and Castillo in Wednesday's Inquirer.


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