Lidge Back on the Mound

 Brad Lidge threw a bullpen session this morning in Clearwater -- his first bullpen after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee two weeks ago today -- and he and pitching coach Rich Dubee were very encouraged.

Lidge threw 25 pitches.

Lidge will throw another bullpen session Wednesday and face live hitters later this week. He could pitch in a Grapefruit League game next week.

"I was really happy," Lidge said. "I didn't feel (the knee) at all. I tried to let it go, and it felt great. I'm obviously real encouraged by that. That's a big step for me."

Lidge said he thinks he will be ready for the March 31 season opener.

"That's my goal still," he said. "And based on today I would say we moved a good step closer to that. Barring any setbacks, I think that's a very realistic goal."

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Kris Benson and Adam Eaton also threw bullpen sessions. It was Benson's first bullpen after he threw a minor-league game Saturday. It was Eaton's first bullpen after he experienced back discomfort Thursday.

Both said they felt fine.

Benson, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery, isn't expected to be ready to start the season, but the Phillies continue to be encouraged with his progress. Eaton said he doesn't expect his back to be an issue the rest of the spring, which means he should be able to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation.

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