On Thursday night, Brad Lidge appeared in his second game this week for the Phillies Class A affiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws. On a rehab assignment, Lidge started the game, throwing 13 pitches (6 fastballs, 7 sliders) and striking out two Kannapolis Intimidators batters in a perfect inning of work.
Previously, on Monday, Lidge tossed a scoreless frame against the Hagerstown Suns, while surrendering two hits.
The outings in Lakewood have been quick. Lidge's road back to the Citizens Bank Park mound has not been, however. The 34-year-old former All-star closer has been sidelined with injuries since spring training. After initially working his way back from a rotator cuff strain, Lidge began experiencing elbow discomfort while pitching with the Phillies' extended spring training team at the end of May.
The right-handed Lidge was clear about needing at least a few more rehab outings, but he is not sure when he could be activated by the Phillies. Lidge says that the way his fastball velocity progresses will help to determine how soon he could get back to big league action.
"We'll take a look where my fastball's at in my next outing or two. That'll be a pretty good indicator," Lidge said. "I know that when this process started, (the Phillies) said seven to ten outings. I'm hoping it's on the shorter side of that."
Lidge is slated to return to action with the BlueClaws on Saturday, in a relief role. What comes after that is not yet determined, but Lidge is happy, as long as he is pitching without setbacks.
"Every time I go out, I want to progress. I know it won't be an exact straight line up, but tonight I felt real good about my control, about my slider. I want to keep working on my fastball. I know I have some work to do on that yet, but being out there to work on it is a great thing for me right now."
The digital board designated to display pitch speeds at Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park has not been functional during either of Lidge's innings this week, but Lidge's fastball has been reported to range from 86-88 MPH in the two outings.
Having spent time on the disabled list in each of his four season with the Phillies, Lidge knows there are improvements to make and anticipates an additional velocity jump upon his return Philadelphia, thanks to the adrenaline that comes with pitching there.
"I'd like to get (my fastball) back up to somewhere around 90, 91 maybe. I think last year when I started a few rehab games, I started around 87 and every outing it seemed to go up about a mile an hour until somewhere to around 90, 91 then I got back in Philly then it magically jumps up two (more) miles an hour when you get out there in those situations."
Despite knowing what it will take to make it back to the active roster, and be a contributor for a potentially postseason bound team, Lidge remains anxious.
"It's gonna be very hard to be patient for that, though because I've been out a long time and I want to get back as soon as I can."
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