Lidge will throw on Monday; fifth starter competition deemed wide open

On Wednesday, Brad Lidge said he was about a week away from getting on a mound to pitch. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- How about some news on a picturesque warm afternoon here? 

Closer Brad Lidge will throw off the mound for the first time since his off-season elbow and knee surgeries on Monday, pitching coach Rich Dubee said. That's a little bit ahead of schedule. Lidge said on Wednesday that he was about a week away from getting on a mound.

The plan is for him to throw 20-25 fastballs, Dubee said.

"He's done a little movement stuff," Dubee said. "He's doing fine. We hope to have him on the mound Monday."

"Is he a little ahead of schedule? I think so."

J.C. Romero is behind Lidge in his recovery from elbow surgery, but not too far.

"J.C. will get up on a mound eventually," Dubee said. "Not far behind that. J.C. did some agility stuff today. He'll start to take part in [pitcher's fielding practice]."

In other news... the fifth starter competition was officially deemed wide open by Charlie Manuel and Dubee. Earlier in the week when asked about it, both responded that it was too early to make any judgments about the competition.

That changed.

"Basically, where we’re at right now, we have to see Jamie get on the mound once we start playing games and see where he’s at," Manuel said. "He had some operations. We’re going to have to see him pitch and everything before we determine where he’s at, if he’s ready.

"Jamie’s going to work as hard as he can, we all know that. He’s definitely going to try to be ready to go. Can Jamie be beaten out? Can anybody be beaten out? Yeah. Why not? That’s baseball.

"I think Jamie Moyer knows how to pitch and Dubee and I know exactly what he can do. He definitely is good against fastball-hitting teams who swing the bats aggressively. He has a lot of experience on his side. But we have to see him pitch."

Dubee also would not rule Jose Contreras out from the fifth starter's job. As planned, he will be stretched out in spring training and will start some games.