Saturday, August 16, 2014

Biddle slated to make Reading return on Saturday

Jesse Biddle, image- Jay Floyd
After a miserable stretch of starts in June, lefty pitcher Jesse Biddle was placed on Double-A Reading's temporary inactive list. On Saturday, he'll make his long awaited return to the FirstEnergy Stadium mound when he starts the first game of the Fightins' scheduled double header against Binghamton.

The 22-year-old posted a 0-4 record with a 12.64 ERA in four June starts. It was clear that there was something quite wrong with Biddle, who had missed a start in late May after being pelted with hail and suffering a concussion.

A mixture of feelings including confusion and anger were firmly settling in while Biddle's efforts on the mound were not.

The Phils saw a need for the Philadelphia native and Germantown Friends School product to take a break. Exams discovered lasting impact on Biddle stemming from the concussion and time off was required.

"For me it was an important time not only to take a mental break and to go down to Florida and fall back in love with the game of baseball, but it was also important for me to see a doctor, go to physical therapy and get my mind right because I definitely was experiencing some symptoms and whether or not they were affecting me on the field, they just affected my day to day life and I can realize that not that I feel 100-percent better," Biddle explained in the Reading clubhouse on Friday night.

Initially, the news shared with the media and the fans was that deactivating Biddle was a mere mental break, which resulted in some of those same people proclaiming that the young hurler was not tough enough. It wasn't until Biddle spoke out recently and proclaimed the break as physically necessary that the truth was fully known.

The inaccuracy of news and presumptions about him being delicate between the ears didn't bother the strong and athletic Biddle. Instead, he has chosen to focus on the uplifting assistance he's gotten from the Phillies.

"I've had nothing but a positive experience with this whole thing," Biddle asserted. "Every coach that I've come across and dealt with has been wonderful and always had (their) best intentions at heart and I couldn't ask for much more out of a coaching staff and out of an organization. They really took a personal interest in me."

Taking in his first game in Reading in more than a month and a half when he witnessed Friday's 8-7 loss to Binghamton, Biddle is happy to be back and received many kind words from fans in attendance.

"I got a lot of 'Welcome back Jesse's' and it means a lot to me to have so much support and I can't wait to get out there," Biddle said, adding that he wishes he had more time to pitch for Reading this year. " It's frustrating to have only a little bit of the season left, but at the same time this is what it takes to get back on track and to feel right again. I'm just glad to be back here and to have the few starts that I have."

Without his troublesome stretch in June, Biddle has tallied a 5-5 record along with a 2.88 ERA in 14 starts this season.

It's possible that Biddle could be called upon to pitch in an off-season league to make up for some missed time. A possibility could be pitching in the Arizona Fall League, which features loads of top minor league talent, a majority of which are from the Double-A level. The six-foot-five 225-pounder doesn't know if he'll go, but he's willing, if the Phillies want him to.

"I feel good and I'm always up to play more baseball," said Biddle excitedly.

For now, though, he'll focus on building on his recent success, having posted a 2-0 record with a 1.50 ERA in three appearances in Florida, and closing out the season in a strong fashion.

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