Sep 092010

Phillies reliever Danys Baez

September 9 Philadelphia Daily News:

Danys Baez has been something of a forgotten man lately. When the Phillies signed him to a 2-year, $5.25 million contract in the offseason, they envisioned a versatile reliever who could pitch multiple innings while also providing some depth in the back end of the bullpen, where closer Brad Lidge and lefty J.C. Romero were both coming back from surgery.

Now, with their relief corps stretched as thin as it has been all season, the Phillies hope that vision finally comes to fruition. Baez gave himself the all-clear yesterday after throwing 21 pitches in a simulated game at Citizens Bank Park. Tomorrow, when the Phillies resume their push to the playoffs in New York after a much-needed off day, he expects to be activated from the disabled list, where he has spent the previous 2 weeks recovering from back spasms.

“I can’t wait to be back,” said Baez, who battled his command throughout the first 5 months, issuing as many walks (21) as strikeouts (21) and posting a 5.54 ERA in his first 42 appearances. “All the time, we need pitching. Every team needs pitching. If I can help the team, especially in the bullpen, it’s going to be good.”

A healthy and effective Baez would be especially good right now, with closer Brad Lidge battling tenderness in his elbow and the rest of the Phillies’ go-to relievers having logged significant action over the past couple weeks.

Lidge has been unavailable the last 2 days with what has been described as both “soreness” and “tenderness” in his elbow. The veteran closer has pitched very well over the last 5 weeks, allowing one earned run, seven hits and three walks while striking out 18 in his last 16 1/3 innings. During that stretch, he has converted 11 of 12 save opportunities.

Manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee both said they expect their closer to be available tomorrow against the Mets. Lidge, who played catch yesterday, has called the injury “minor,” saying his unavailability is a precautionary move. Despite Lidge’s two previous stints on the disabled list because of his elbow, Dubee said he was “very confident” Lidge would return by tomorrow.”

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