05/25/09 6:23 PM ET
Manuel sticking with slumping Lidge
Manager to let closer work out issues in save situations
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Managing is managing personalities.
That is why he plans to have Phillies closer Brad Lidge work through his command and confidence problems in save situations, despite his season-long struggles.
"I want Lidge to feel like we've got all the confidence in the world in him, because I do," Manuel said before Monday's game against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. "People are going to voice their opinions and everything like that. Sit him and all that stuff. What's sitting going to do for him? Sooner or later he's got to go out there and pitch and get somebody out."
Of course, Manuel could have Lidge pitch in the sixth, seventh or eighth inning until he resolves his issues.
"That's worse," the skipper said. "What kind of message is that? That's really worse. That's what Houston used to do to him. They used to slide him into the sixth or seventh."
Lidge is 0-2 with a 9.15 ERA and eight saves in 12 opportunities. His ERA is the second-highest in baseball among relief pitchers. He blew two saves over the weekend against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, and three saves during the team's 10-game road trip through Washington, Cincinnati and New York. He also saved three games on the trip.
Lidge went 48-for-48 in save opportunities last season, including the postseason. He was the bullpen's rock.
Manuel hasn't forgotten that.
"If my manager walked up to me and said, 'You failed the last two days; I'm going to give you a break. I'm going to let you sit three, four or five days or slide you into the seventh inning or something like that,' how would you feel?" Manuel said. "I'd say, 'Hey, Chuck doesn't like me too good.' That's kind of how I look at it."
Lidge's command has been an issue this season, which must improve.
"I think when it's going to be right for him is when he throws a good inning," Manuel said. "If he does that a couple days in a row, I think you'll see a huge difference. Once he gets his command he'll be off to the races."
Lidge was encouraged with his effort Sunday, despite the fact he blew a save in the ninth, because he thought he had the best command of his fastball all season.
"I think his stuff is there," Manuel said. "I think it's just a matter of him making more quality pitches and cutting down on his walks and things. I think his stuff will play out over 162 games. That's what makes him a good closer. His stuff will play out. Will he blow some games? He had a perfect year last year. ... How was he going to top that? He had to have some letdowns this season. That's baseball."
Manuel understands that. That is why he is sticking with Lidge.
"I think about treating him right," Manuel said. "I think he deserves a chance to work it out."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.