Brad Lidge, scheduled for a knee scope today, is expected to miss 3-to-6 weeks. If he isn’t ready by opening day, Tom Gordon, 40 and pitching through a slightly torn labrum, will go instead.
A Feb. 25 surgery with a short timetable for recovery isn’t the worst injury situation a team will face this spring, and if you lose sleep this early in the game, good luck 140 games into the season, when a dozen teams are still mathematically alive.
What’s frustrating is the possibility the Phils will not be able to start the season according to plan again. Last year, Freddy Garcia never materialized, then Gordon was lost soon after. This spring, they were hoping to overcome just one obstacle at fifth starter - a fairly common and tolerable predicament. They didn’t want to think about their newly acquired closer. That changed the moment Lidge caught his spike on the mound after making one batting practice pitch on Saturday. An MRI revealed small tears in the inner part of his knee. The off-season’s biggest acquisition, who had been throwing well according to reports, goes under the knife today.
The Phils say Brett Myers will stay in the rotation no matter what. The team does not believe the 2007 scenario will repeat itself, the one where Gordon and Ryan Madson were unhealthy and ineffective, while in Boston, J.C. Romero couldn’t locate the strike zone, leading to his mid-season release. In the meantime, fans can hang their hat on an interim closer pitching for job security into his middle ages. Maybe Gordon can handle it. He’s reportedly throwing well.
Nevertheless, the bullpen reclaims top billing for the story we’ll follow closest this spring. The Phils have 16 million reasons to give the final spot in the rotation to Adam Eaton, instead of a Rule 5 pick or Durbin. And in the spirit of keeping our chins up, a healthy Kris Benson, at some point this summer, adds up to six starters, including one who revels in pitching the ninth.