Phillies Notebook: Lidge digging his retired life

DAVID SWANSON / STAFF Darin Ruf slides into third base after being hit with a throw in the fourth inning against the Braves.
DAVID SWANSON / STAFF Darin Ruf slides into third base after being hit with a throw in the fourth inning against the Braves. (slides into third base after being hit with a throw in the fourth inning against the Braves.)
Posted: March 07, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Brad Lidge was knee-deep in an ancient Roman bath last summer, about an hour north of Rome, when he uncovered a piece of history.

"Probably 15 minutes into it," Lidge said, "I found this really cool ancient Roman coin."

Such is the retired life of Lidge, the team MVP of the 2008 world champions who bowed out of baseball after his right arm gave out in the seasons that followed his perfect, first season in Philadelphia.

Lidge is getting his Master's degree in Roman archeology from the University of Leicester in England, taking online courses that also involve annual excavation excursions in Italy.

For the next week, however, Lidge will be the latest in a group that has included Roy Halladay, Larry Andersen, Dave Hollins and Gary Matthews, putting a Phillies uniform back on this spring as a guest instructor.

Lidge said he'll sit in the bullpen during games and watch the side sessions of many of the young pitchers in camp, too, hoping he can share some of the knowledge he gained during his 11-year career.

"I think one of the biggest things I can help guys out with is talking about game plans. When you're coming up it can be a lot different than a guy who's already there and knows what he's doing," Lidge said. "I think because the Phillies have a lot of good young arms, that's part of it, obviously, part of the equation. But the other part is knowing what you're doing when you get out there. And not just your routine physically but mentally as well . . . Hopefully I can relate something that clicks with them."

Lidge, 37, will be in camp for a little more than a week before returning to his home in Colorado. Two months ago, the personable and knowledgeable Lidge was one of Comcast SportsNet's top choices to replace Chris Wheeler and Matthews as a color commentator in the Phillies' broadcast booth.

Lidge said he wanted to spend his time as a recent retiree hanging out more with his family, and he reiterated that yesterday. But he also plans to keep a hand in baseball in one way or another moving forward.

"I enjoy right now doing stuff from MLB Radio," Lidge said of his weekly show, which airs on Sundays. "I'm doing the show out of my house - that spoils me a little bit. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy that a lot. I am enjoying radio stuff. I don't know if broadcasting is the right avenue. As I've said before, I was flattered with the opportunity to possibly have a position in that, but I think right now, something like this goes a long ways. And slowly getting back into being involved with the Phillies organization in little ways like this, and at the same time, keeping a radio job. It allows me to stay in touch with baseball in a pretty fun way."

Advanced metrics

The Phillies have been criticized for being slow to incorporate advanced metrics into their decision-making. But manager Ryne Sandberg said the team will use spray-chart data to shift their defense around more often, a tactic the Pittsburgh Pirates used last year en route to their best season in more than 2 decades.

"I was aware that they were doing it," Sandberg said. "[Pittsburgh] wasn't the only team doing it, but they pitched to it effectively and the way their season went, I think it worked well for them."

Sandberg said the Phillies will have the info at their fingertips all the time: spray charts for the opposing team's righthanded and lefthanded hitters and results of batted balls from their own starting pitchers and relievers. It will be utilized accordingly.

The Phils also will coordinate with their starting pitchers, depending on how they plan to pitch, too.

Yesterday, three Phillies infielders moved to the right side of the diamond when Braves lefthanded-hitting Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate in the third inning. Freeman singled to left.

"We're going to play with it a little bit," Sandberg said of shifts. "Once we get our charts and everything, make a decision. Sometimes it may be dependent on the game. Right there there were two outs in the inning and wind blowing out to rightfield. [We'd be] happy with him trying to take a stroke the other way. Even though it wasn't a ground ball, it changes his approach at the plate with two outs."

Phillers

Cole Hamels is on the docket to face hitters for the first time this spring by throwing live batting practice today. Barring a setback, Hamels could jump into the Grapefruit League rotation next week . . . Jimmy Rollins returned to the lineup yesterday. Rollins was excused from camp on Monday and scratched from Tuesday's lineup while battling flulike symptoms. Rollins went 0-for-3 against the Braves. He is hitting .286 (2-for-7) with a home run, three walks and a strikeout in four games this spring . . . Cody Asche's name already has been penciled into the starting lineup for today's game against the Tigers in Lakeland. Asche was held out of three games this week after getting hit in the right hand with a pitch on Sunday . . . The Phillies have their first split-squad scheduled today. Righthanders David Buchanan and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez are scheduled to pitch in Lakeland against the Tigers (Justin Verlander will start for Detroit), while Kyle Kendrick is matched up against Yankees rookie Masahiro Tanaka in Clearwater (1:05 p.m., TCN). The game in Lakeland is not televised.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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