It's Ring Day at Citizens Bank Park, which means Phillies' rehabbing relievers Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero are in town to collect their bling. It's also a chance for the two to catch up with team doctor Michael Ciccotti and the rest of the Phillies brass.
And both are considerably optimistic about an imminent return.
Lidge pronounced himself 100 percent healthy following the cortisone shot in his right elbow and said he still has a little ways to go until he is 100 percent ready as a pitcher. The Phillies closer who is recovering from off-season elbow and knee surgeries said he is targeting the homestand that begins April 30 as a return date.
"I still have a few more outings to go but definitely every one since I had the cortisone has gotten better," Lidge said. "The first outing I had afterward was not very good. But the control on my slider has gotten a lot better since then. So I'm definitely going in the right direction and hopefully it won't take much longer. I feel like it's really close right now."
Romero said he didn't want to predict a return date.
"I don’t know," Romero said when asked. "I just work here. Whenever they tell me, ‘Hey, we need you,’ then I’ll start pitching. My job is to get ready and stay focused mentally. I’m doing that right now. Being here today with the guys today is going to help me, get me pumped up a little bit, and I’ll make the best of it, and whenever they tell me, I’ll be ready to go."
Both pitchers are likely nearing the end of their stay in Florida with the Phillies' single-A affiliate in Clearwater. Romero said he thinks the team will keep him up here for outings with double-A Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley. Lidge said he is scheduled to pitch Saturday in Clearwater and that could possibly be his last outing there.
Neither pitcher has yet to throw in games on back-to-back days and that is a requirement before they are activated. Romero threw 31 pitches in a two-inning outing his last time out and said his elbow held up just fine. Lidge has yet to throw in more than inning and will do that soon, he said.
Lidge's fastball has mostly been around 91 m.p.h., he said. That's not too far off from where it was at when he was rehabbing to start the 2008 season. He said he is a "click off that."
"I feel healthy," Lidge said. "So I'm expecting a lot out of myself this year. I'll be very excited to get back and start pitching against major-league hitters again."
And the fact that the Phillies' bullpen has performed incredibly well to start the season as the team is off to a 7-1 start has definitely helped ease the need to return quickly, Lidge said.
"J.C. and I were talking about it, every time we see a score of a game, it's pretty amazing," Lidge said. "It definitely helps to be more patient. It lets you know, hey, the bullpen is taking care of business. Everybody is doing a great job. We're scoring that many runs a game. We're in good shape. We're very fortunate."