BY NICK STAFFIERI, Contributor
“I’m going to burn my ’09 shirts and we’ll get this over with,” was the quote from Brad Lidge at the start of this year’s Spring Training in Clearwater Florida. And why not? Lidge posted a league worst 11 blown saves last year with a 7.21 ERA and an 0-8 win-loss record.
Lidge is expected to rebound from an off-season surgery on his right elbow in November and knee surgery in January of this year. He will begin throwing on Monday, but is not expected to throw off the mound for another two weeks. He does anticipate working out every day during this Spring Training. Lidge’s goal is to be ready by opening day, as he believes he is ahead of schedule on his rehabilitation. But it still remains unclear if he will reach that goal.
With the possibility of Lidge being sidelined during the first weeks of April, the Phillies may rely on veterans Ryan Madson or Danys Baez to start the season as the closer. Baez may be the better option based on his experience. He posted 41 saves in 2005 for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and has 114 saves in 150 attempts for his career. Madson, over his career with the Phillies, has posted 15 career saves in 34 attempts including 10 saves and 6 blown saves in 2009 when he became the closer during Lidge’s time on the disabled list.
Mentally, Brad Lidge is prepared to rebound from his disastrous 2009 season and get back to his 2008 form. With a healthy and effective Brad Lidge closing in the ninth, Madson, Baez and the rest of the bullpen can settle into their roles and become a force in the middle to late innings for the Phillies.
TRIVIA: With 72 career saves as a Phillies pitcher, Brad Lidge needs 41 saves, as many as he had in the 2008 season, to become the Phillies all time saves leader. Who is the current Phillies all-time leader in saves?
ANSWER: Jose Mesa – 112 saves
Who will he pass during those 41 saves as a Phillies pitcher? Ricky Bottalico 78, Ron Reed 90, Tug McGraw 94, Mitch Williams 102, Steve Bedrosian 103, Jose Mesa 112.
Brad Lidge quote courtesy Phillies.com