05/23/10 6:01 PM ET
No rust for Figueroa, even with long layoff
By Todd Zolecki and Zach Schonbrun / MLB.com
No GPS needed.
Figueroa had not pitched since May 3 before he pitched the seventh and eighth innings Saturday in a 5-0 loss to the Red Sox. It was a 19-day layoff between appearances -- a long enough time that teammates asked him if he needed a map to find the mound. Figueroa didn't, and he didn't look rusty, either. He allowed one hit and struck out one in two scoreless innings.
"I have been practicing," he said. "It was definitely worth waiting for."
Figueroa said he had thrown off the mound three or four times since he pitched May 3. He also had been throwing off flat ground, working with his teammates on keeping his pitches as sharp as possible.
"Everybody says, 'You throw a lot,'" Figueroa said. "That's because I never know when I'm going to have to throw."
Figueroa also knows he could go 19 days in between appearances, and then be worked hard over the next couple weeks.
"That's why there's never a complaint, because as a long reliever you know how it goes," he said.
Valdez ends whirlwind week back with Phils
PHILADELPHIA -- Wilson Valdez sat in his hotel room for five days waiting for word on where he might end up. The infielder was designated for assignment last Monday, when Jimmy Rollins was activated off the Phillies' disabled list. Valdez was in limbo.
He finally got a call from his agent on Friday that he had cleared waivers and was reassigned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, so he checked out of the hotel and made his way to Allentown, Pa. He was expected to start for the Iron Pigs on Saturday.
But Rollins re-injured his right calf and was placed on the disabled list again before Saturday's game with Boston. So Valdez got another call -- this time to come back to the Majors.
"I don't control that," Valdez said. "I always hoped that I'd stay here. I feel happy to be here."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said the team never wanted to see Valdez leave. He was happy with the play of the 31-year-old journeyman infielder, who batted .231 with five RBIs in 11 starts this year.
Manuel said Valdez and Juan Castro will likely share most of the opportunities at shortstop until Rollins is ready to return. Manuel expressed some concern about the durability of the 37-year-old Castro, who has missed time already this season with hamstring and knee injuries.
"I'll use whoever I think is best on that day," Manuel said Saturday. "I'm concerned about Castro. He gets hurt. Valdez is a good option."
That Valdez is even an option came as a surprise to Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who thought Valdez would be claimed. It certainly worked out fortuitously for Philadelphia, who is lacking at infielder depth at the high levels of the Minor Leagues.
"We were fortunate to get him through," Amaro said Saturday. "I'm glad to get him back."
Valdez arrived at the ballpark just before the first pitch on Saturday after traffic delayed his ride.
"There was an accident, too, so we had to go really slow," Valdez said.
Now that he's back, though, he's happy to get another chance to contribute.
"I'm just glad to be here," Valdez said.
Lidge aims for activation early next week
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow, said he will throw in the bullpen Tuesday and Thursday in New York. He possibly could make a rehab appearance this weekend, although that has not been determined.
Lidge, who received his second cortisone injection this season into his ailing right elbow Monday, is hopeful he could be activated early next week.
"It feels like it is," said Lidge, asked if he feels the inflammation is gone. "The key is keeping it out. But I think we've figured out some things I can do to keep it out."
Phillies pitchers J.A. Happ and Ryan Madson will report to Clearwater, Fla., on Tuesday to continue their rehab program. Happ is on the disabled list with a left forearm injury. Madson is recovering from surgery on his right big toe. ... Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who is on the DL with a strained right calf, is expected to join Happ and Madson in Clearwater on Wednesday. ... Catcher Brian Schneider, who is on the DL with a strained left Achilles, is expected to be activated before Tuesday's game against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.