Phillies closer Lidge looking to forget tough 2009
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) – Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge says he is pain free.
A year after converting all 48 save chances, Lidge led the major leagues with 11 blown saves last season. He had surgery to repair his right elbow in November and right knee in January.
Now as spring training is about to start, the 33-year-old is confident he can regain the form that helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series.
“I probably won’t look back and dwell,” Lidge said Wednesday. “Now it’s about being myself again, going to my bread and butter and getting things done.”
The loser in a pivotal Game 4 of the World Series against the New York Yankees, Lidge estimates he is two weeks behind his usual preseason pace. He expects to pitch off a mound next week and doesn’t rule out being available for the April 5 opener against Washington.
“The good thing is my arm and knee both feel good, and it’s my goal to catch up and try to be ready,” Lidge said. “I think that’s a possibility. It’s reasonable. But we also look at ’08 as a model. We didn’t rush it, and I had the best season of my career.”
Lidge had arthroscopic surgery on the same right knee in spring training two years ago and missed the first series of the regular season. But he was activated after four games and helped the Phillies win the World Series for the first time since 1980.
Lidge completed his first three save chances last year, then blew one April 19. Less than two weeks later, the Phillies briefly sidelined their closer due to right knee inflammation.
He said Wednesday the knee pain caused him to change his mechanics: He put more pressure on his right arm, leading to the elbow injury.
“You try to convince yourself that you’re not 100 percent but you’re fine, you’ll be able to go out there and do the same thing and get results as normal. You try everything to do that,” Lidge said. “It’s not about trying to trick people as much as convincing yourself. If you can’t sell it to yourself, there’s no reason to go out there. I think the biggest thing is I was trying to convince myself I could get it done the same way and I felt I could do it, but I wasn’t the same guy last year.”
Lidge’s fastball control became erratic. He gave hitters a better and longer view of his delivery, and he couldn’t hold runners on base – Johnny Damon stole two bases on one play during that Game 4.
Spring training will allow Lidge to work on his mechanics, which could be key for the Phillies.
“We, obviously, want to get back to the World Series, but more than that we want to be considered one of the best teams ever in the National League,” Lidge said. “But that’s not the motivating factor. The motivating factor was that we didn’t like how last season ended.
“We feel even though the Yankees have a great team, if we’re on top of our game and everybody is doing what they’re capable of doing, then we can certainly beat a team as good as the Yankees. That’ll be the motivation: To get back there and end the season on Broad Street again.”