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03/31/10 4:20 PM ET

Lidge gets cortisone shot in right elbow

Phils downplay procedure; closer feels good after outing

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It has been a long time since Phillies closer Brad Lidge has been healthy, but he said he is not worried about his health following Tuesday's cortisone injection into his right elbow.

The Phils also maintained they are unconcerned.

Lidge had surgery on the inner half of his elbow in November. He currently has inflammation on the outer half. But Phillies physician Michael Ciccotti said Wednesday the inflammation is unrelated to the surgery. Ciccotti also said no MRI is required, and Lidge has no structural damage to the elbow.

"Coming into Spring Training every year, Brad has some lateral or outer elbow soreness," Ciccotti said. "It's just part of his reconditioning process. Because he started a little bit later this year with his throwing -- because of those two surgeries [elbow surgery and arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in January] -- that soreness has lingered a little bit longer. Usually it resolves by the second or third week in March. And so to jump-start him, we decided to give him an injection."

Cortisone injections are not routine, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. downplayed it. Pitching coach Rich Dubee added that Lidge received a cortisone injection into the same side of the same elbow either in 2008 or '09 for similar inflammation and soreness.

"I think you guys are making a little bit too much of the cortisone shot, I guess," Amaro said. "It's more just to get him over the hump. He didn't have a sharp pain. It's not related to his surgery."

Lidge threw one inning in a Minor League intrasquad game Tuesday at the Carpenter Complex. He told reporters afterward that he felt good, although his fastball hit just 87 mph.

A short time later, Lidge got the shot.

"I was feeling a little soreness," Lidge said. "It's not something that I haven't experienced. Normally in February, I always experience a little joint pain in the back of my elbow. It almost always goes away at some point in March and we're on our way. But this year, obviously getting a late start, that soreness has come later and it's sticking around a little bit longer than we like. ... Let's just nip it right now and get over that hump, so we know that I'll be able to get back as fast as possible."

The next few days are big for Lidge. He will long toss Friday. If he feels OK after that, he could throw in the bullpen Saturday or Sunday.

If Lidge feels OK following the bullpen session, he could return to the mound.

If he does not feel OK?

"I'd be more concerned if after he takes this [shot] that he's throwing and it's bothering him," Amaro said.

The Phils originally had scheduled Lidge to rejoin the team the second week of the season, but that seems less likely at this point. But Ciccotti said if the shot works, they hope Lidge still could return either the second or third week of April.

In the meantime, right-hander Ryan Madson is the closer. But there is no question the bullpen is thin without a healthy Lidge and left-hander J.C. Romero, who also will open the season on the disabled list following offseason elbow surgery.

"It's a concern when you have two of your back-end guys not available," Amaro said. "We'll go with what we have. Ryan has had some experience pitching deep. [Danys] Baez has had experience pitching deep. The one guy that hasn't had that kind of experience consistently is [Jose] Contreras. The fact that he hasn't thrown well [this spring], you have to have some concern about that. But hopefully he'll come in and pitch well when it's time for him to pitch."

The Phillies offered some good news when they said Romero is progressing fine. He could rejoin the team the second week of the season.

Lidge said he sees no downside to the cortisone shot.

"I'm not exactly sure where it will take me, but I would guess that I'm going to feel a lot better on the other side of this and that's what we'll need to get over it," he said.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.