Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge took their lumps in yesterday’s action. Is it a cause for concern?
Since Madson is set to become the bullpen’s focal point, Ryan Lawrance’s follow-up is what you should be reading this morning. (I couldn’t care less about the return of Brett Myers.) There’s only so much information that can be obtained from a box score, almost none when it’s spring training. That is why it’s important to know that Madson, who hasn’t touched his curveball in ages, is revisiting the pitch this spring. [Delco Times]
Lidge is under a more unforgiving microscope, one where every minor flaw is magnified. And rightfully so. Lidge experienced one of the worst single-season reversals in baseball history last season and followed it up with a pair of surgeries. Making his third rehab appearance yesterday in a Double-A game, he surrendered two runs, meaning he’s allowed runs in each of his minor league appearances. Writers have downplayed Lidge's struggles and reduced velocity this spring, but needless to say, my skepticism stands as to whether he can be a championship-caliber closer again.
Howard’s stance: Yesterday, I expressed consternation over the amount of attention Ryan Howard’s batting stance had received. As it turns out, the adjustment was first mentioned here by Beerleaguer correspondent Billy Mac after the Florida State game on March 3. “It was very noticeable,” Billy Mac reminded me via e-mail. “I mentioned he was holding his hands higher; I didn't notice he was standing closer to the plate, but if you examine games from last year, Howard is always tinkering with how close or far he stands from the plate.” Howard said he’s scooted closer to the plate this spring in order to handle breaking balls, which he saw 40 percent of the time last season, most in baseball.
The irony is that for years, Phillies fans barked about Howard’s need to make adjustments, even when he was hitting 58 home runs and winning the MVP. Now, after one of his steadiest seasons to date, he’s making adjustments at a time when fans are generally at peace with his game.
Minor notes: Phillipe Aumont allowed one hit over four shutout innings in relief of Lidge. (Aumont is definitely getting work this spring, so that degenerative hip issue doesn't appear to be a concern). Freddy Galvis and Domonic Brown each went 3-for-4 (courtesy of BlueClaws blog)