Lidge's velocity remains a little low
Closer's fastball around 87 mph in Minors rehab outing
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Brad Lidge needs more time.
The Phillies closer allowed one hit, one unearned run and one walk in one inning Tuesday in a Minor League intrasquad game at the Carpenter Complex. He is still searching for the arm speed and command of his fastball he needs to pitch in the Majors, but the right-hander remains optimistic he can rejoin the Phils in the second week of the season.
Lidge, who is recovering from November elbow surgery and January knee surgery, originally said he needed about 10 appearances in the Minors to get ready, which means he is about halfway there.
"Hard to tell," said Lidge, asked if he might need more than 10 appearances. "I hope not, but it's possible. Day to day, I can't tell you how I'll feel tomorrow, so it's really hard to know how I'm going to feel five outings from now."
Lidge's fastball hovered around 87 mph Tuesday. During the season, he throws around 95 mph, but Lidge does not need to have that velocity before he rejoins the Phillies. His fastball hit 92-93 mph while he rehabbed in the Minors in 2008, when he also opened the season on the disabled list. Lidge got the extra couple clicks on the radar gun when he made his season debut in Cincinnati, with a large crowd and adrenaline pumping through his body.
But clearly Lidge needs to progress further before he reaches that point.
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Lidge, who faced Class A hitters, allowed a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar and walked Jiwan James. Leandro Castro grounded out to put runners at the corners. Castro stole second, but the throw from catcher Tim Kennelly sailed into center field, allowing Villar to score. Sebastian Valle popped out and Darin Ruf grounded out to end the inning.
Lidge liked his slider, saying he felt like he could reach back and throw some good ones. But the fastball remains a different story.
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said Monday that left-hander J.C. Romero's arm speed is progressing more quickly than Lidge's. Romero also had offseason elbow surgery, but he had his a month earlier than Lidge's.
"I wish I knew," said Lidge, asked why his arm speed isn't progressing more quickly. "We're working hard. We're working real hard. There's lot of variables when you have surgery. There's scar tissue that might be in a spot that's making it a little tougher. Maybe my arm just isn't responding as quick."
Lidge said he isn't frustrated.
"Coming into Spring Training, [the team's medical staff] told me two weeks into the season is where you want to be," he said. "I'm optimistic, so I was hoping it would be quicker. They said the other day, 'Listen, you wanted to be ahead of schedule. That's fine, but the schedule we had you on was two weeks into the season.' So if that's what happens, then that's the right schedule. ... It's frustrating, because I want to be in control of things, but sometimes you have to realize you're not in control of everything."
Lidge said the plan is to begin pitching every other day, which means he will throw again Thursday and Saturday.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.