Mar 292011
 
Phillies closer Brad Lidge

Phillies closer Brad Lidge

By Justin Adkins:

The Phillies have announced that closer Brad Lidge will be out around 3-6 weeks as he recovers from a strained rotator cuff.

Lidge has started the season on the disabled list in three of the past four seasons, and with the Phillies recent spate of injuries this really isn’t a big surprise.  But it could have been worse.

“We knew there was something going on in there, but on the brighter side, at least it’s not something that needs to be surgically repaired,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.  “We’re glad it’s not a labrum. That’s on the bright side of things, but it’s still significant.”

This likely explains Lidge’s inability to crack 90 on the radar gun all spring.  Hopefully rest and rehab get him back to something close to 2008 form.  Though even if he’s only out a few weeks, he’ll still time on top of that to build his arm strength back up.  If he can’t throw for a full six weeks, it’s possible he misses the first three months of the season.  Gulp.

In the meantime, the Phillies need a closer, and for those expecting the job to go to Ryan Madson, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel threw them a curve.

“Right now, if I had to choose, Jose  Contreras would be the closer,” Manuel said earlier Tuesday.

That’s pretty damning for Madson, who likely expected to slide into the closer’s role despite his regular struggles when previously pressed into service in the 9th.  Pitching coach Rich Dubee seems to prefer the more steady Contreras.

“I see one guy,” Dubee said Sunday. “Guys are more comfortable when they’re slotted in a role and it’s preparation. You know when your time’s coming. When you’re grabbing at straws, guys are a little leery of what’s going on, so you’d like to have that back end set up.”

Dubee was also asked specifically about Madson closing before.

“The game speeds up on Madson sometimes.  He doesn’t get to the same comfort level. There’s a little anxiety in there. The ninth inning is a little different than the eighth. There’s been a lot of solid eighth-inning guys who just haven’t been able to pitch the ninth, then one day they learn how to do it. Ryan Madson is Ryan Madson. What did he do, take a crash course in how to close or something?”

Yikes.

Then again, Madson is dominant as a setup man and with so much going on injury-wise it makes some sense to try to maintain a little cohesion and continuity within the chaos.  Hopefully he didn’t kick anything when told he wouldn’t be closing.

Contreras did a nice job last season, leading the team with 67 appearances while posting a 3.34 ERA in 56.2 innings with 57 strikeouts.  Not bad for a long-time starter.  Madson on the other hand has 24 blown saves in 44 career tries.  And that pretty much explains Charlie’s decision right there.

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