Shoulder pain to put Lidge on DL to start season
Phils closer to miss third Opening Day in four years due to injury
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It is "World Series or bust" in Philadelphia, but the Phillies will need their best players to get there.
They lost another one on Friday.
Closer Brad Lidge will open the season on the disabled list because of pain in the back of his shoulder. Lidge struggled on Thursday in a Grapefruit League game against the Twins at Bright House Field. It was his first appearance since March 11, when Philadelphia shut him down because of tendinitis in his right bicep.
"I'm a little concerned, because I haven't had shoulder problems in the past," Lidge said.
Either Ryan Madson or Jose Contreras could close while Lidge is out. Manager Charlie Manuel would not name a favorite but said he likely will give one man the job.
"It's not good. That's our guy," Madson said. "That's the guy that, since he's been here, he's our anchor, and when he's on, everybody's on. It doesn't mean we can't pitch without him, but we want him back as soon as possible -- we absolutely do."
How much time will Lidge miss?
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Lidge is optimistic that he can return by mid-April, but he also said that he will need to rest the shoulder longer than he rested the bicep, which was two weeks. He could be activated on April 9 at the earliest.
Team physician Michael Ciccotti will examine Lidge's shoulder on Saturday in Clearwater, and Lidge will undergo an MRI next week in Philadelphia.
"There was always a little pain in the back [of the shoulder], which we thought was from the biceps tendinitis," Lidge said. "I'm not really familiar with the shoulder. I haven't had shoulder issues before, at least not for a long time, so I'm not really familiar with the discomfort and pain I'm having."
Said Amaro: "It's all a concern, of course. We don't think it's going to be a long-term issue, but it could be."
This will be the third time in four seasons Lidge will open the season on the DL.
"It's very frustrating," he said. "Yesterday I was really pretty upset, just because coming into camp this year, I felt really good. I don't know where along the line I [was hurt]. I'm sure it was pretty early in camp. It's just been very frustrating that it hasn't gotten a lot smoother."
The Phillies had discussed the possibility of carrying 11 pitchers into the season, but with Lidge out, they likely will carry 12.
Madson has pitched 21 times in save situations as a closer the previous two seasons. He has converted 15 of those chances, with a 4.84 ERA. Contreras threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings with four saves in four opportunities as a closer last season.
Madson would welcome the opportunity to close if it presented itself. Contreras would, too.
"I want to be healthy, and I want to help the team win," Contreras said through his translator, teammate Danys Baez. "I don't care where and when and what kind of situation. I just want to help the team win, especially a situation like this with Lidge down. As a bullpen we have to support Lidge. And as a teammate we have to support the team and do whatever we have to do to win the game."
The Phils will open the season with both Lidge and second baseman Chase Utley on the DL. Rookie right fielder Domonic Brown will also be on the shelf, although there was no guarantee he would have made the Opening Day roster before he broke his right hand earlier this month.
Placido Polanco played on Friday for the first time since March 15 because he was dealing with a hyperextended left elbow. He went 0-for-2 and said that he still felt some soreness when he swung his bat, but he expects to be ready by Opening Day.
But losing both the No. 3 hitter and closer is a considerable blow for the team.
"This is all part of the game," Amaro said. "Nobody wants any injuries, but we'll deal with them.
"I'm not surprised. It's just something that happens. As long as we can get them better, I think we have the personnel to pick up the slack, which we've done before. Of course we want all of our guys on our club, but we can't do much about it other than having guys step up and perform in place of those guys."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.