Brad Lidge Shoots for Return to Phillies Bullpen Early Next Week

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Brad Lidge Shoots for Return to Phillies Bullpen Early Next Week

Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who has been on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow since May 15, said he will throw in the bullpen both today and Thursday while the Phillies visit the Mets at Citi Field.

Yesterday, Lidge received a cortisone injection for the second time in 2010 in hopes of easing the pain of his ailing right elbow. The Phillies hope Lidge can return to the Phillies' bullpen early next week.

"It feels like it is," Lidge was quoted as saying when asked if he feels the inflammation is gone, by Phillies.com. "The key is keeping it out. But I think we've figured out some things I can do to keep it out."

Whether or not Lidge can keep the pain out is a big question—but not the only one facing the Phillies. It's uncertain whether the Phillies will make Lidge their closer once he returns.

The Phils bullpen has a 3.69 ERA so far the year, the exact same ERA as their starting pitching staff. But that's misleading. While the Phillies rotation has collectively been excellent through the first seven weeks of 2010, the bullpen has been anything but impressive in close games.

Jose Contreras, the Phillies' current closer, has been sensational. The 38-year-old has allowed just one run in 14.2 innings this season. The opposition is hitting .163 against him, while he's walked just two and struck out 20.

With Contreras pitching so well, it's likely the Phillies will welcome Lidge back with a few appearances in semi-lopsided, no-pressure games.

If Brad is effective in those situations, he could be used as the club's setup man in place of either Chad Durbin or Danys Baez. Ryan Madson, the most ineffective pitcher in the Phillies bullpen this season, is not expected to return from his broken toe until the end of June.

Lidge made his first major league appearance of the season in a 9-1 loss to the Mets back on April 30 at Citizens Bank Park, where he gave up a home run to the first batter he faced (former Phillie catcher Rod Barajas). Lidge only recorded one out before being removed from the game.

Two weeks later, after pitching in three other games, Brad was back on the DL.

Manager Charlie Manuel will no doubt be very careful not to overwork Lidge when he returns from the DL, whether he's being used as closer, setup man, or mop-up man.

Decisions, decisions for the Phillies.

But the Phillies' only goal for right now is to get Lidge healthy for the first time in 13 months (thanks again for your honesty this time, Brad).

Getting Jimmy Rollins back in the lineup would be nice too...

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