HOUSTON - Brad Lidge pitched at Minute Maid Park on Thursday for the first time since the Houston Astros traded him to the Phillies in November.
He received a healthy mix of cheers and boos.
They have only cheered him in Philadelphia. Lidge has been a godsend in the bullpen. He entered last night's game with a 1-0 record, 0.43 ERA, and 12 saves in 12 opportunities. In 21 innings, he has allowed just 10 hits, one earned run and 10 walks, and struck out 24. Opponents have hit just .137.
Loyal readers of The Inquirer's Phillies blog - the Phillies Zone (
) - submitted questions to Lidge, a Notre Dame alumnus, earlier this week. Here's what he had to say:
Which Charlie has the most pressure to succeed, Manuel or Weis?
- Stu C., Newport, Pa.
Right now, I'd say Weis, just because he's coming off a pretty bad year at Notre Dame.
How do you get into the proper mind-set before you pitch?
- Alex C., Pottstown
I try to relax as much as possible for the first five innings or so, and then I really try to lock in and watch guys' at-bats after that.
How does being a closer affect your game-day preparation, as opposed to players with fixed schedules?
- Dan M., Hatboro
I get into a very solid routine. I do the same things every day. It's not even superstitions so much as it is a routine. Basically, I try to relax and take care of my body all the way up until the fifth inning. And then as soon as the fifth inning comes around, I flip on a switch and get completely mentally locked into the game.
Did the fans' reputation in Philly ever cross your mind after you found out about the trade?
- Matt K., Indianapolis
Not really. You throw good anywhere, fans will cheer you. You throw bad anywhere, fans will boo you.
Do baseball players ever wear their team's gear when they're not on the field, like the fans do? I mean, do you ever throw on a BP cap when you're going out to mow the lawn? Or are those your "work clothes"?
- Jim W., Ridley Park
We get enough giveaways during the season. We have enough extra T-shirts that, yeah, during the off-season I'll wear team T-shirts or hats to work out in on occasion. But I'm not wearing it out to the mall, that's for sure.
What is the all-time best intro song for a closer? Do you find it hard to choose a song?
- Josh M., Maple Glen, Pa.
I'd say probably the most recognizable is [AC/DC's] "Hells Bells" for Trevor Hoffman. Therefore, it's the best, because I think you want something that people can associate with you. For me, it doesn't specifically matter what the song is so much as long as it gets me fired up. Given enough time, I think the fans will start to recognize the song and realize what time it is in the game, and it'll start getting them excited.
Aside from baseball-related factors (ballpark, money), name some things about Philly that would make you want to stay beyond this year.
- Dan C., Conshohocken
As long as my family is comfortable. I like the area a lot. . . . I don't know if this is related to what you're asking, but having a chance at going to the playoffs every year. That's really important for me. That and the fact that we have a really good group of guys here. I really like my teammates.