Lidge feeling better than he has since 2008

The Phillies got reliever J.C. Romero back from the disabled list on Thursday and moved closer Brad Lidge just a little closer to being able to return. Lidge threw a shutout inning for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in his sixth rehab appearance.

On a day when bullpen mate J.C. Romero was activated from the DL, Brad Lidge took the mound for Lehigh Valley in their match-up against Pawtucket. Lidge, who was making his first appearance with Lehigh Valley after five appearances with Clearwater, issued a walk in his one inning of work, but had no other problems against Pawtucket. Lidge needed 14 pitches to set down Pawtucket in the sixth inning.

"It was fun to pitch out there tonight. I was glad I had a good inning and glad I felt good," said Lidge.

While the Phillies could use Lidge for their major league bullpen, it's not likely that he'll be activated before the end of the weekend. With Romero, the Phillies had him pitch in back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday before activating him on Thursday. It's likely that the Phillies will want to see Lidge in back-to-back games as well before they would activate him. After his outing with Lehigh Valley Thursday night, Lidge will head to Double-A Reading, where he'll meet up with teammate Joe Blanton, who is rehabbing with the R-Phils and will start Friday night's game. Lidge is scheduled to pitch in relief and could potentially join the club in Arizona on Monday, unless the Phillies decide to extend his rehab assignment, in which case, he would likely stay with Reading for much of next week.

Lidge seemed to lose a little focus after getting the first two outs in the inning and issued a four-pitch walk to first baseman Aaron Bates. He immediately rebounded and got Pawtucket catcher Mark Wagner to hit a fly ball to left fielder Chris Duffy to end the inning. Of his 14 pitches, eight were strikes and Lidge's mechanics appeared to be smooth and he looked comfortable on the mound. Lidge worked primarily with his fastball, but mixed in his slider throughout the outing. The fastball topped out at 93 miles per hour and appeared to have good movement.

Lidge is battling back from knee and elbow surgeries that he had during the off-season, but says that he truly feels healthier than he has since he converted all 41 of his save opportunities in 2008 and helped to lead the Phillies to their first World Series title since 1980.

"I really feel health-wise that I'm back there," said Lidge after his outing. "Now, it's about building arm strength. I feel like I'm very close."

Besides activating Romero earlier in the day, the Phillies had to place starter J.A. Happ on the 15 day DL with a strained left elbow. With Happ injured, the Phillies will put reliever Nelson Figueroa into the rotation to start Saturday in Arizona. It's possible that Drew Carpenter, one of the better pitching prospects in the Phillies organization could eventually join the club to fill either a spot in the rotation or a long reliever role. Blanton will need a few more rehab starts before being ready to face major league hitters. He is expected to be on a 50 pitch limit when he starts Friday night.

In addition to all of the pitching injuries that the Phillies have had, they've been without the services of shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who is on the DL with a strained calf muscle and is likely going to miss at least a couple more weeks because of the injury. Placido Polanco is also listed as day-to-day after being hit on the elbow with a pitch in Wednesday night's win over Atlanta. Greg Dobbs started at third base on Friday in the absence of Polanco, who the team believes won't need a trip to the DL.

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