Brad Lidge announced his retirement during spring training and is pursuing a master's degree in archaeology from the University of Leicester in England.
"It's a distance [online] program," Lidge said by phone from his home in Boulder, Colo.
During the latter stages of his career with the Phillies, Lidge earned a degree in digging for answers when the life leaves your right arm, the same difficult course that two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay is trying to navigate now.
"I think the greatest challenge, which is also the most frustrating part, is the length of time it takes to figure out what to do and how to get hitters out when you're not using Plan A anymore," Lidge said Saturday by phone from Boulder.
For Lidge, the realization that his 95-m.p.h. fastball was gone forever came in 2009, but the ability to truly do something about it did not come until 2010.
"In 2009, it was a bad year and I was fighting it," Lidge said. "I told myself, 'Don't worry about it.' The last thing you want to do is make the adjustments everyone is telling you to make, because you've been successful a certain way for so long. That's how you have always pitched."
Lidge, who announced his retirement during spring training earlier this year, was among the most dominant relievers in baseball for six years, using his mid-90s fastball and a slider that looked just as hard before it tilted violently out of the strike zone.
When his velocity declined, it was a cold reality that he did not always want to face.
"Sometimes warming up in the pen, it would really feel like you had the same velocity you always had," he said. "You'd always feel like in the back of your mind that you could rear back and let it go and be as good as you have ever been, even though that was not the reality. You'd be very surprised when they were able to get to the ball, and then you'd watch the replay and you'd see you were throwing 91 when you used to throw 95."
Asked if it was humbling, Lidge opted for frustrating instead.
"Humbling might be the word you'd use after the season, but frustrating is the word during the season," he said. "When you get hit time and again, eventually your confidence is shaken a little bit.
"After a bad game, I'd go into the batting cage and throw the ball as hard as I could against the wall trying to get my arm-strength back. Of course, all that did was make you tired. I'd air out a hundred balls in a bucket until I couldn't lift my arm anymore."
Lidge said he does not think outside pressure will get to Halladay.
"That kind of stuff is more difficult for a young player," he said. "The advantage for me and, I think, for Roy as a veteran player is that you're able to separate the garbage from the things that help you. You have a level of discipline that you can filter out things."
Lidge never regained his form as a premier closer with the Phillies, but given the loss of his velocity, he did a more than respectable job during his final two seasons with the team. In 2010, he converted 27 of 32 saves and posted a 2.96 ERA. He was limited to just 25 games in 2011 and had a 1.40 ERA despite pitching with a partially torn labrum.
"I figured out that I had to throw a lot more sliders," Lidge said.
Lidge has followed Halladay's struggles this season and he believes that the two-time Cy Young Award winner can remain successful once he figures out how to change his style.
"The good news for Roy is that he has a lot more pitches and a lot better control than I ever had," Lidge said. "Even though his velocity is not quite as high, I still see a guy with a good cutter and curveball. I still think he has enough pitches that he'll be able to make the adjustment pretty soon."