Friday, 25 September 2009
Phillies will look at closer options beyond Lidge
By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP)—The Philadelphia Phillies suddenly are auditioning potential replacements for struggling closer Brad Lidge(notes) and juggling their rotation with Pedro Martinez(notes) still bothered by a stiff neck.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Friday that the World Series champions will consider other options for closing games, adding that manager Charlie Manuel could keep Lidge in the mix.
“I don’t think any decision’s been made officially,” Amaro said. “I think Charlie’s going to put people in to pitch in the seventh, eighth, ninth inning that he feels are going to be most effective. It doesn’t necessarily mean Lidge isn’t one of those guys. He still could be one of those guys.”
FoxSports.com first reported that the Phillies would try other pitchers as their closer.
Philadelphia also decided to scratch Martinez from his start Saturday against the Brewers and replace him with right-hander Kyle Kendrick(notes). Martinez injured his neck during an at-bat in Atlanta last Saturday and it’s not clear when he will pitch again.
Martinez, 5-1 with a 3.32 ERA since signing with the Phillies on July 15, said he is feeling better but didn’t want to push himself.
“I’m not going to put anything in jeopardy,” Martinez said. “I’m going to be smart.”
Lidge has blown 11 of 42 save chances this season for the NL East leaders. He is 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA. Last year, Lidge was perfect in 48 save tries in the regular season and playoffs.
And with the end of the regular season approaching, the team is running out of time for Lidge to regain the form he showed last year.
“It may take some guys to step up and pitch in different roles that they are not typically accustomed to,” Amaro said. “And Brad may be asked to do something different than he’s been doing for us. Again, at the end of the day, it’s about how we can get the last six or nine outs.”
Left-hander J.C. Romero(notes) and right-hander Brett Myers(notes), both on the DL, might be able to help out. The Phillies are hoping each will be able to return next week.
Romero has been on the disabled list since July 23 with a strained left forearm and Myers, who missed most of the season because of a strained right hip, has a muscle strain in his back.
“If (Manuel) feels they can get them out, he’ll put them out there,” Amaro said. “And again, maybe Brad Lidge is one of those (players) out there.”
Other potential ninth-inning options include right-hander Tyler Walker(notes), who earned 23 saves for San Francisco in 2005, and rookie left-handed starter J.A. Happ(notes).
“Our best (plan) is to have Lidge pitch the ninth,” Amaro said. “Right now, he hasn’t been doing that effectively. And we might have to make an adjustment off of that.”
Amaro said he hasn’t talked to Lidge about his confidence.
“He has not performed the way he knows he can perform and the way we know he can perform,” Amaro said. “He’ll show us how confident we are.”
Is this an unsettling situation with the playoffs approaching?
“Well, we’d rather have the seventh, eighth and ninth locked up like we have in the past,” Amaro said. “This isn’t a perfect world, unfortunately.”
Manuel said the return of Romero and Myers would provide a boost, but acknowledged it wasn’t an ideal situation.
“There’s always challenges,” Manuel said. “That’s what makes it good.”