Apparently, there is an explanation for Brad Lidge's poor arm strength thus far this spring. According to team doctor Michael Ciccotti, who briefed reporters this morning, the Phillies' closer has had soreness on the exterior of his elbow, which prompted the club to give him a cortisone injection yesterday.

Ciccotti stressed that the soreness was not structural, and was in no way related to the surgery Lidge underwent this offseason, which involved the interior of the elbow. Lidge is expected to long toss on Friday and throw a bullpen session either Saturday or Sunday, depending on how his elbow responds.

Ciccotti said the shot would not necessarily affect Lidge's timetable to return this season. Lidge viewed the Phillies' April 12th home opener as his target. The Phillies have said they expect him back at some point between the home opener and the end of April.

"Our goal had always been to get him back by mid-April," Ciccotti said. "Of course Brad very much wants to get back as soon as possible, but our goal had been to get him back by mid-April. And so with this, it may not necessarily change that time frame very much. Maybe the third week in April or so."

Lidge's velocity has been down throughout a handful of minor league appearances that he has made this spring. He usually experiences similar soreness in his elbow at the start of spring training, but it tends to dissipate within two to three weeks of starting his throwing program.

"It's just a matter of jump-starting him and hoping to get him over this yearly lateral elbow soreness that he has," Ciccotti said.