Lidge's recovery off track The closer, who in the off-season underwent knee and elbow surgery, has had some stiffness.

Posted: May 12, 2010

DENVER — Brad Lidge has always been an optimist when it comes to any injury. He has pitched (sometimes unsuccessfully) through his share of ailments. And rarely does he admit anything is wrong.

Lidge was not available to close for the Phillies Monday night after he began feeling some stiffness in his right arm a few days ago. Manager Charlie Manuel would only go as far as to say he was trying to stay away from Lidge.

A few hours before Tuesday's game with the Colorado Rockies was rained out, Lidge said he was not concerned.

"It's fine," he said. "I just had a little stiffness, and we wanted to be cautionary."

A few minutes later, Lidge walked outside to the cold Colorado air and played catch with Chad Durbin. He didn't appear to exert his arm much.

Upon returning to the clubhouse, Lidge was asked how it went. He was visibly discouraged.

"It didn't really feel like I wanted it to," he said.

Those are scary words for a Phillies team that is already shorthanded in the bullpen with Ryan Madson (broken toe) on the 60-day disabled list.

Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said the team planned to wait and see on Lidge's progress.

In four games since returning from the disabled list on April 30, Lidge has allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings.

"It's something to monitor day-to-day, and see how he feels," Proefrock said. "Remember, he's only made four appearances since he's been back. None of this is ever going to be a straight-line progression."

But do the Phillies need to make a move to replace Lidge's arm since it may not be ready to go on any given day?

"I don't think it's at that point," Proefrock said. "If it gets to that point, then we can explore that. Right now, it's just something we're monitoring day-to-day."

Before playing catch with Durbin, Lidge said Phillies head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan told him the stiffness is something that can happen after surgery to remove loose bodies (such as bone chips or spurs) from an elbow. Lidge underwent that procedure along with knee surgery in the off-season.

Lidge, 33, said Sheridan told him he was not worried. Sheridan was unavailable for comment.

"It's really nothing that is alarming unless for some reason it doesn't get better for a couple of days," Lidge said. "If it just stays there, then that would be something we'd have to look at. Right now it seems very straightforward to what it is."

With Lidge unavailable, Jose Contreras pitched the ninth inning of Monday's 9-5 victory over the Rockies. It was the third day in a row that Contreras pitched.

"He's covering a lot of us right now," Lidge said of Contreras. "He really is. He's been outstanding for our bullpen. We knew he had good stuff. We just didn't know he'd be able to be as durable as he is."

Contreras has been that good. In 11 2/3 innings, he has a 0.77 ERA with 15 strikeouts and one walk.

The problem is that Contreras, Danys Baez and Chad Durbin have been relied on heavily in the first five weeks of the season. Those three have pitched a combined 41 1/3 innings - exactly half of the innings logged by the bullpen.

"We'll get by," Manuel said.

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

Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/magelb.

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