Lidge receives cortisone shot for sore elbow

Brad Lidge has received a cortisone injection for inflammation in his right elbow. (David Swanson/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Closer Brad Lidge suffered what is being described as a minor setback in his return from two off-season surgeries Wednesday when he received a cortisone shot for inflammation and soreness in his right elbow.

The soreness is not related to Lidge's surgery on his elbow, Phillies team physician Michael Ciccotti said. Lidge had surgery on the inner part of his right elbow for some tendonitis. The soreness is on the outer part of the elbow and is something Lidge normally has in spring training.

But it has lingered longer than normal this spring. And that can partially explain why Lidge's velocity remains in the high 80s.

"Coming into spring training, every year Brad has some lateral -- or outer -- elbow soreness," Ciccotti said. "It's just part of his reconditioning routine. Because he started a little bit later this year with his throwing because of those two surgeries, that soreness has lingered a little bit longer. Normally it resolves by the second or third week in March."

Ciccotti said the timetable for Lidge's return remains mid-April. It could, he said, push Lidge back to around the third week of April. The home opener on April 12, which had been Lidge's goal, seems highly unlikely.

Lidge will be held out of throwing until Friday, when Lidge will long toss. Then, depending upon how that goes, he could throw a bullpen side session on Saturday or Sunday.

Ciccotti said as Lidge builds up arm strength, the soreness should go away.

"It's just a matter of jump starting and hoping to get him over this yearly lateral elbow soreness that he has," Ciccotti said.

Ciccotti said Lidge has shown no symptoms from where the off-season surgeries were performed. No MRI will be needed to examine the elbow, Ciccotti said, because there is no structural damage.

"We'll see how he does on Friday with long tossing," Ciccotti said. "We're anticipating he will feel comfortable and confident. Then we'll have him throw a bullpen Saturday or Sunday. That will dictate when he actually goes to the mound. We're certainly optimistic." 

Meanwhile, the news on lefty J.C. Romero, who also had off-season elbow surgery, is better. Romero remains on schedule to return in mid-April and will pitch in another minor-league game on Thursday.

"J.C. is doing very well," Ciccotti said. "He's progressing along with the reconditioning type of achiness that all the throwers have as they come back from a surgical procedure. He's doing very well."

UPDATE (12:26 p.m.): Lidge just met with reporters briefly and had this to say:

Is this why your velocity hasn't consistently hit above 90?
"Yeah, I think so. We got to a point where it was stagnant for a couple weeks and wasn't going up like it normally should go up in spring training. My arm strength is good. My slider was coming around. Everything else was going the way it was, but velocity was just not going. Rather than projecting on when it will, we just decided to take action into our own hands. Get a cortisone shot and hopefully that will speed the process up a lot."

So you were feeling soreness?
"Yeah, I was feeling a little soreness in there. It's not something that I haven't experienced. Normally in February I always experience some joint pain in the back of my elbow. It almost always goes away at some point in March and we're on our way. But this year, obviously getting a very late start, that soreness I normally go through has come later and it's sticking around a little bit longer than we'd like.

Is there inflammation?
There is a little bit. That's kind of normal for me again. It's just in February instead of late March.

Are you concerned because it's the same limb you had surgery on?
"No. The reason there really isn't is because I've had this every year. The only difference this year is that it's just taking a lot longer. So we decided to instead of, 'Will it come back? A week? Two weeks? Let's just nip it right now and get over that hump so we know I'll be able to get back as fast as possible.'"

Is there any downside to a cortisone shot?
"You can't throw for a couple days. You're a couple days behind where you want to be. That being said, if it works like we're hoping it to, it's going to speed up things a lot on the other side of that. Right now, with what I have, there's not a whole lot of downside to it. I'm not exactly sure where it will take me, but our guess is that I'll feel a lot better on the other side of this."