Lidge on Phils' arms: 'They've got the talent'

Former closer returns for second stint as Spring Training guest instructor

Lidge on Phils' arms: 'They've got the talent'

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Brad Lidge still looks like he could pitch for the Phillies.

But on Sunday, he finished his second turn as a guest instructor at Phillies camp. He first worked as a guest instructor in 2014, but that felt a little different, with former teammates like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz and Cliff Lee still on the roster. This time, he saw a lot of young pitchers and a lot of new faces.

"I definitely got more out of it this time," Lidge said. "My hope is that I can really help facilitate either their path to the big leagues, or [for] the young guys that are in the big leagues, help that learning curve happen faster. Because, I'll tell you what, I don't even think even our [2008] bullpen had as many good arms as they've got now. They've got the talent."

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Lidge notably worked with closer Jeanmar Gomez, who last season pitched successfully in the role through mid-August before struggling and losing his job in the final week of the season. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Gomez is his closer entering camp.

Gomez to remain closer for 2017

"The stuff is plenty good," Lidge said of Gomez. "There's lots of closers that don't have his stuff and have success. But the first year you close, it's not just the physical tax, it's the mental tax, too. The experience going through that will allow him to pace himself this year."

Lidge thinks relievers like Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos have bright futures. He thinks Luis Garcia has the stuff to close, but he needs to take that next step.

"He has wipeout closer stuff," Lidge said. "As soon as learns to breathe out there, takes deep breaths between pitches, calms himself down … It's a hard thing to do when there's a runner on second base in a tie game. As soon as you can develop some comfort, he'll be able to revert back to that great stuff and attack hitters."

Since he last pitched in the big leagues in 2012, Lidge, 40, earned his master's degree in Roman archaeology from the University of Leicester. He still goes on archaeological digs in Italy, with another one planned this summer. He currently works as a host on MLB Network Radio, but he plans to devote most of his time to his family in Colorado.

But in the future, once his children are older, Lidge sees himself getting more involved in baseball. Comcast SportsNet has courted him as a broadcaster, but he is more interested in coaching.

"It's hard for me to watch games and not want to be involved," Lidge said. "The radio is great, but it's not scratching the itch to be hands-on and be involved a little bit. I like being outside with them. I like catching the guys and seeing what's coming out of their hand. That's more exciting for me."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.