Brad Lidge resumed what is essentially a spring-training rehab assignment today by throwing one inning in a minor-league game at the Carpenter Complex.
Lidge allowed one run on two hits, walked one and struck out one against a collection of double-A players from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
With his velocity still well below the 95 mph-range he hopes to be throwing at during the season, the Phillies' closer decided to switch from his standard four-seam fastball to a two-seamer that has more movement. He made the change after the first two Pirates hitters lined doubles down the left-field line off his four-seam fastball.
Lidge, after throwing 25 pitches, including 15 for strikes, said he didn't throw a two-seamer very often last season and that his four-seam fastball will remain the primary fastball he uses to set up his slider. Lidge said he wants to add the two-seam fastball to his options.
"(Ryan) Madson started to throw it last year and it worked well for him," Lidge said. "It's good for every pitcher to have. As I keep throwing, there should be more and more life on the four-seam fastball and we'll obviously use that. But (the two-seamer) is not a bad pitch to have and today I was able to switch off the four-seamer to the two-seamer and get some really good results."
After surrendering the two doubles to start the first inning, Lidge induced a pop up to second base, then registered a three-pitch strikeout before walking the fifth hitter on a borderline call. He finished his one inning by recovering from a 2-0 count to get a fly out to right field.
This was Lidge's second appearance in a minor-league game and he said he'd like to get 10 appearances before making his major-league return. Lidge expects to start the season on the disabled list, which means he wouldn't be able to pitch at least until the Phillies' fifth game of the season April 10 when they'll be in Houston.
Lidge said his surgically repaired knee and elbow continue to feel fine. He believes a two-seam fastball with movement could have helped him last year, but he had too many physical issues to try it.
"It would have been real nice to have," he said. "But I think there were so many other things that we were worrying about when I was pitching and that's kind of the beauty of this year. If something isn't working, I can switch it and I don't have to think about how my knee is feeling. I can just pitch."
Lidge's four-seam fastball topped out at 89 mph, but he said that's typical in his early spring-training outings.
"For me, in the last three or four years, spring training starts very slow," Lidge said. "It's hard for me to gauge because normally I don't get to about 95 percent until the last game or two of spring training. One-hundred percent only comes when I get to the season. I can't say that I need to be throwing 95 (mph) by the time I leave here because that's not going to happen.
"That being said, I know I need to increase my command and velocity. So far the first two games it has gone up and that's a good step in the right direction for me. I know I need some more work for sure. I mentioned I wanted to try to get at least 10 games. That's two, so I still have a while to go."
LH Mike Zagurski was optioned to the minor leagues this morning, which means Antonio Bastardo is likely to open the season as the Phillies' left-handed specialist out of the bullpen to open the season unless general manager Ruben Amaro makes a trade.
The move came one day after Zagurski surrendered three runs on four hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning against Baltimore.