"In my mind, I'm thinking I've got to be back for the second half and to have a really good second half and to make sure I'm back stronger than before. That's my goal."
Slowly, slowly, the picture is starting to come into focus. Sometimes decisions are dictated by injuries; second baseman Chase Utley and outfielder Domonic Brown will join Lidge on the disabled list at the start of the season. Sometimes injuries create more decisions.
The Phillies don't have to formulate their final roster until tomorrow. Charlie Manuel doesn't have to settle on a batting order until he hands in his lineup card before the home opener Friday afternoon. The manager doesn't have to nominate a closer to step in for Lidge until the first save opportunity presents itself.
But he dropped several tantalizing insights into his thinking, including awarding rightfield to Ben Francisco and strongly hinting that 39-year-old Jose Contreras, not Ryan Madson, will close at the outset.
And asked a seemingly innocuous question about Rule 5 infielder Michael Martinez, Manuel made his strongest comments of support yet and even compared the 28-year-old to one of the elite shortstops of this generation.
"He brings a lot of energy. He's got talent. He's acrobatic. He impressed me. He made some plays defensively that were top notch and I'm anxious to see him up here at the big-league level," Manuel said.
Anxious to see him at the big-league level?
"He can hit. We'll see," the manager continued. "Omar Vizquel, when he first came to the big leagues, when he got around 28 or 30 years old I think is when he developed his hitting. And he's stronger than Vizquel. This kid has got some tools and he lit some guy's eyes up in spring training."
That's a strong endorsement for a player who must be kept on the active roster all year or offered back to the Washington Nationals.
Another clue emerged with the announcement that first baseman Matt Rizzotti has been outrighted to the minors, creating an opening on the 40-man roster. If the Phillies intend to keep veteran second baseman Luis Castillo, who signed a minor league contract after being released by the Mets, they needed to make room.
But can the Phillies really keep Martinez, Castillo and Wilson Valdez? One team insider insisted that it's "not only realistic but probable."
So let's take a look at what all this could mean to the Opening Day roster.
Starters (5): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton.
Relievers (7): Contreras, Madson, J.C. Romero, Kyle Kendrick, Danys Baez, Antonio Bastardo, David Herndon. (The Phillies have warned against jumping to conclusions based on the seven healthy relievers remaining. But to keep, say, Michael Stutes would presumably require making yet another subtraction from the 40-man roster.)
Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz, Brian Schneider.
Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Valdez, Castillo, Martinez.
Outfielders (5): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Francisco, Ross Gload, John Mayberry Jr.
So there you have it. Or not.
Manuel didn't anoint Contreras as the closer, but came as close as he could without actually handing him the ball to protect a one-run lead in the ninth. "Right now, with the way it looks, here lately we've been using Contreras," he said. "Of course, Madson is still there. At the same time, to start the season, it looks like it might be Contreras. I don't know yet. But I'd say right now, if I had to pick somebody tonight, it would probably be Contreras.
"He's got big stuff and he's come a long ways and to me he feels more confident now and he's more adjusted to the role than he was last year. Right now if we had to pick somebody, he'd be the first option."
As for Francisco, the manager came right out and said that he would get an opportunity to show what he can do to fill the large hole left by the departure of Jayson Werth. Francisco underlined that with his fifth homer of the spring in his first at-bat last night, but also allowed a sinking line drive hit by Pittsburgh's Neil Walker to get past him and roll to the wall in the fifth with runners on first and second and nobody out.
"When we start the season, Francisco's going to get a chance to play," Manuel said firmly. "In our organization, people think he can hit. I think he can hit, too. He's going to get a chance to play.
"I've heard people say he got to play in Cleveland. He didn't get no 350, 450 at-bats or something like that. He's never done that. So this is a chance for him to get to play. Starting off, he's going to get a good chance to play, what you call a bona-fide chance."
And, as always, every decision is subject to change without notice.