READING - Phillies closer Brad Lidge never appeared so happy to be pitching in the minor leagues. Lidge, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 7 with a sprained right knee, pitched one scoreless inning for the Reading Phillies in last night's game with the visiting Harrisburg Senators.
The righthander was last night's starter. He threw 15 pitches, 11 for strikes. Lidge allowed a leadoff double and struck out two. His fastball consistently clocked in the 91- to 92-m.p.h. range, and he had nice bite on his slider.
"The big thing for me is to get out there and push off my back leg and make sure it feels good, and I did that today, and it did feel good, so I was very happy with my outing," Lidge said before departing FirstEnergy Stadium.
Lidge had also reported no pain in two bullpen sessions last week, which he said is a positive sign.
"If there is inflammation, it is not bothering me, and I am able to drive off my back leg like I want to," he said. "That is the key: Can I pitch the way I want to and not have to think of mechanics? Right now, I can."
He said that now he will think about coming back.
Lidge said the best-case scenario was to make one more minor-league rehabilitation start Tuesday for Clearwater, but he could make two more appearances.
"There is a chance I might want to throw again on the 25th," he said. "They don't want me coming back until they know I know for sure in my head 100 percent that everything in my body is responding exactly how I want it."
Lidge said he realized that being patient was the best course, but that doesn't mean it is easy.
"Our bullpen has been throwing a lot, and I know they are tired," he said. "It's hard to sit back and watch guys throwing more than they are comfortable throwing."
Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper watched Lidge here last night.
"It was a very positive outing," Looper said.
This season Lidge is 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA and 13 saves in 19 opportunities. Last season he was successful in all 48 save opportunities, 41 in the regular season and seven in the postseason.
Phillies officials said they wanted Lidge to take time to let his knee improve because he needs the leg to be powerful. But they also didn't want him to hurt his arm by altering his mechanics to deal with the pain. Those changes didn't produce the desired results, anyway.
"I tried to change my mechanics to take the pressure off my back leg and not use it as much," he said. "For whatever reason it was a very hard adjustment for me to make, and the results weren't what they normally were."