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Lidge could return as early as Tuesday

Lidge could return as early as Tuesday

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PHILADELPHIA -- Brad Lidge said his right knee feels as good as it has felt in months.

That is good news for the Phillies, who learned Thursday they lost leftfielder Raul Ibanez to the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin. But while Ibanez will not be back until July 3 at the earliest, they could have their closer back as early as early as Tuesday against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Lidge, who is on the DL with a sprained right knee, threw 42 pitches in a bullpen session before Thursday's game against the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park.

He said it went well.

So well, in fact, he said he could begin a rehab assignment soon. He thought he might begin his rehab Friday in Double-A Reading, but Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said no schedule has been determined.

Regardless, he is hopeful he could rejoin the team sometime next week.

"I wouldn't necessarily say results are essential down there [in his rehab assignment]," Lidge said. "If it looks like I really am pushing off and using my back leg ... I think the hitters will give a good indication of where I'm at and where my stuff is at. If I still need a little more time, it might be another rehab outing maybe on Tuesday."

Lidge went 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA and 13 saves in 19 opportunities before the Phillies placed him on the DL.

He said he still has a small level of fluid in his knee.

"Could I aggravate it if I went and did squats? Yeah, no question," he said. "It's not gone, but it's at the point now where it's completely manageable to where I can push off my back leg. That's the goal. That's where we're at right now. We just need to maintain it there."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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