BY MATTHEW NADU, Columnist
Brad Lidge has a big incentive for a speedy recovery from his offseason elbow and knee surgeries.
In yet another Philadelphia sympathy story, the organization invited closer Eric Gagne to Arizona for a pitching session. The news comes after Gagne informed a French Canadian radio station that he would have a tryout with the Phils Wednesday afternoon.
The six foot, 240 pounder was nearly unstoppable as a Dodger from 2002-2004 at one point saving a record 84 straight games on route to the 2003 NL Cy Young Award.
That’s right, six foot weighing in at 240 pounds. That’s a big boy with a big fastball, oh yeah, and at the top of a big list of reported steroid users.
His filthy goatee and a mane not seen since Dave Hollins held down the hot corner at the Vet, couldn’t hide the fact that he was juicin’ more than the Kool Aid guy.
Don’t worry Dave you rocked a much tamer mane.
Injuries took a toll on Gagne and matters got worse with his listing in the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs after the 2007 season. After his Cy Young campaign Gagne has only been a shell of his former Canadian lumber jack self hauling in just 35 saves from 2007-2008 after record 152 from 2002-2004.
Since then he hasn’t been able to hold a job but has maintained his weight jumping from Texas corn dogs, Boston baked beans and Milwaukee bratwursts.
Poor guy the only thing that flattened out for him was his fastball.
But the Phillies have been in this situation before.
Pedro Martinez was considered washed up, out of baseball for good until he became a vital part of the Phillies rotation in their 2009 World Series run.
But we all know how the story ends. Martinez ran out of juice against the Yankees and for the Phillies good wasn’t good enough.
On the other hand, Brad Lidge arrived in Philadelphia with a smorgasbord of health concerns and more mental issues than Britney Spears.
His acquisition was one of the best in Phillies’ history.
Now Eric Gagne is no Brad Lidge, hell Brad Lidge isn’t even Brad Lidge anymore, after an awful 2009 season but like Jerry Seinfeld once told George Costanza, separate they are not a complete man, but together they are one man.
Perhaps the organization has adapted this theory, take two half closers and combine them together to get one save. As sad as it is that Gagne, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since September 25, 2008 is in consideration for a bullpen role, why not?
The Phillies still have Lidge under contract and Gagne would be a low risk high rewards pitcher. He can’t get any worse than he has been, so the team knows what they would lose maybe a few hundred thousand dollars, but if he has a comeback year like Lidge in 2008, he could be key for a shaky Philadelphia bullpen.
This all of course depends out how his tryout goes.
Despite all Gagnes’ concerns at least one thing is certain, he won’t run out of juice by the end of the season.