According to reports, Brad Lidge will open the season on the disabled list due to pain in his right shoulder.
Lidge has been battling through arm issues all spring, including soreness in his bicep, but this shoulder issue is reportedly something new, and according to the Inquirer's Matt Gelb on Twitter, is located in a problem area toward the back of his shoulder. Todd Zolecki of Phillies.com said that Lidge is hopeful to be back by mid-April, but that's purely speculative at this point as the beat writers detected some real concern. Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras are candidates to fill Lidge's void, but Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was unsure which one would close. Lidge started the 2010 season on the disabled list and pitched better as the season went along. He has reportedly been clocked only in the high 80s this spring and has now suffered a multitude of injuries since his perfect season in 2008. The injury will open another spot in the bullpen if the Phillies stay with 12 pitchers.
Beerleaguer: Here's the bright side, and I want to be careful how I word this. A closer is a non-essential part of April baseball. Early season games are very strange. There's no flow. Hitters are behind. Nothing makes sense for a couple of weeks. If the Phillies play .500 ball in April, they're gold. Heck, .500 ball on June 1 has happened many times before and worked out fine. A month-long audition for Madson and Contreras isn't the worst thing, either. Lidge doesn't have a future in Philadelphia as this team's closer, and may not have a future anymore, period, but Madson and Contreras might. I've said before that I'm curious to know if Contreras can become a ninth inning bulldog, while I'd prefer to keep Madson in his eighth inning comfort zone.
Still, Madson and Contreras just became vital pieces to the puzzle, with the four aces being the absolute key. Offensively, Jimmy Rollins is in a contract year, which comes at a good time. Outside of that, I see many struggles ahead as pitchers stay far away from Ryan Howard's power.