Three Thoughts: Lidge, Mathieson, Martinez

Phillies' prospect Michael Martinez fields the ball at Bright House Field. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- After a brief hiatus, we're back with Three Thoughts. Plenty to talk about with less than two weeks to go in Florida...

1. It's difficult to decide what we should make of the Brad Lidge situation. Yes, the injury has been downplayed by everyone possible -- from Lidge to Rich Dubee to Ruben Amaro Jr. But to me, the most troubling thing is Lidge's admission that he has been bothered by this tendinitis for a couple of weeks.

"To be honest, I felt great coming down here, but somewhere in my first outing or two I just felt a little tightness in my shoulder, and I tried to throw through it a couple times," Lidge said.

That's the sort of thing that makes you cringe in March.


With Chase Utley, Brad Lidge and Placido Polanco ailing, should we be concerned about the Phillies?

As Bob Brookover noted in today's Inquirer, a National League scout said Lidge's best fastball this spring was 88 m.p.h. From 2009 to 2010, Lidge's average fastball velocity lost 2 m.p.h., going from 93.6 to 91.7. Is this the next progression?

Dubee will say that pitchers -- and especially closers -- won' t have their best velocity for a few weeks. Lidge typically doesn't pitch in spring training because he's hurt, so the Phillies will say this is progress that he actually got on a mound.

But you wonder how many bullets are left in Lidge's arm and how much longer his body can hold up.

2. Scott Mathieson won't make this team, but he has accomplished one goal. The righthander has pitched six straight scoreless innings in the Grapefruit League. None of his eight strikeouts have come on his fastball, the one pitch that has prompted sustained interest in the double Tommy John pitcher.

Mathieson has thrown mostly sliders and splitters this spring and he's gotten outs with the pitches. That's the one thing Dubee said he needed to see from Mathieson this spring. So will he make the team? No, not unless there is an injury. Mathieson has an option left and the numbers game will force him to triple-A Lehigh Valley again.

But he has done nothing to hurt his stock this spring.

3. Because of his Rule 5 status, Michael Martinez could make this team. He can play a bunch of positions, he has speed and decent defense. But he hasn't shown too much at the plate to suggest he's anything more than a singles hitter. It could come down to Josh Barfield vs. Martinez and the Rule 5 status will weigh heavily in Martinez's favor.

Why? The Phillies could send Barfield, who has an out clause sometime in May, to triple A for the first month. That will give them a longer look at Martinez and when Barfield's chance to leave comes up, the Phillies can decide who they'd rather have. Basically, it offers a delayed date to make a decision.

Then again, Barfield's bat may be too good to overlook.

Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.

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