Lidge to throw off the mound

Posted: February 21, 2010

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Turns out Brad Lidge is closer to being ready than he originally thought.

On Wednesday, Lidge said he was possibly a week away from throwing off a mound. But yesterday, pitching coach Rich Dubee said Lidge would throw 20 to 25 pitches off the mound tomorrow.

"He's done a little movement stuff," Dubee said. "He's doing fine."

Lidge said on Wednesday that he was about two weeks behind schedule after undergoing two off-season surgeries - one on his right elbow and one on his right knee. Dubee agreed, until Phillies doctors checked Lidge out.

"Having not seen him, I didn't think" he would be this far, Dubee said.

"Having reports from where he was - all the reports were good, the workouts in Colorado were fantastic. But when the doctors got to see him, they tested him, moved him a little bit, and he's doing fine. Is he a little ahead of schedule? I would say so, yes."

Dubee said that fellow reliever J.C. Romero (elbow surgery) would also soon throw off a mound. Romero did agility drills yesterday and will eventually start to participate in pitchers' fielding practice.

"He's doing fine," Dubee said.

Castro's versatility

When Juan Castro entered the majors in 1995, he was primarily a shortstop. But as he found out his bat wouldn't guarantee him a spot on a roster, he expanded his abilities in the field.

"It's helped me a lot," Castro said. "A long time ago, I realized if I could learn some other positions, I would have more chances to keep myself in the big leagues. That was my goal. I learned second. I learned third base."

Castro arrived at Phillies camp yesterday. He signed a one-year, $750,000 contract in December to replace Eric Bruntlett as the team's primary reserve at middle infield.

Castro, 37, played four positions for the Dodgers last season. And he hit .277 after consecutive seasons of sub-.200 batting averages with Cincinnati and Baltimore.

He said he felt most comfortable at shortstop, his natural position. But he has also played second and third base, with limited time in left field. He brought his first baseman's glove to camp, too.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Castro understood his limitations.

"Castro's got good hands," Manuel said. "He can play all the positions. He can field. He's never been a big high-average hitter, but he knows how to play the game. He's always shown me he can bunt, handle the bat, hit and run, he'll put the ball play. That's very important."

Extra bases

Backup outfielder Ben Francisco also arrived at camp yesterday. . . . Brian Schneider caught Roy Halladay's second bullpen session of the spring. . . . Manuel is pleased with the conditioning of his pitchers. "They look real good," he said. "I haven't seen anybody who you would say is out of shape."

Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or mgelb@phillynews.com.

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