Lidge hurls scoreless inning at Triple-A

Lidge hurls scoreless inning at Triple-A

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- Phillies closer Brad Lidge took another positive step in his rehabilitation from elbow and knee surgeries, tossing one scoreless inning for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday night.

With his velocity touching 93 mph, Lidge was extremely pleased with his latest outing and said he feels he's "very close" to returning to the club.

The 93 on the radar gun in center field was another good indication.

"That's definitely a good sign," Lidge said. "To be honest, I didn't know if I'd get there before I got back. That makes me pretty pleased with this outing."

On a night the Phillies added yet another pitcher to the disabled list -- starter J.A. Happ, with a left forearm strain -- Lidge's outing was a bit of reassurance.

He's now gone four straight appearances without allowing a run, after giving up four in two-thirds of an inning in his first outing for Class A Clearwater. But that seems to be behind the 33-year-old right-hander, who said he feels as close to his 2008 form as he has in a while.

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

It's finally some injury news that isn't detrimental for Philadelphia.

No other team in the Majors has been hit with such an injury wave this early in the year. With two starting pitchers (Happ and Joe Blanton), the starting shortstop (Jimmy Rollins) and Lidge all out, Philadelphia has needed to be creative filling out its 25-man roster during the first weeks of the season.

But signs appear to be brightening. Left-handed reliever J.C. Romero was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday after missing the first 15 games following offseason left elbow surgery.

Blanton will make another rehab start for Double-A Reading on Saturday and could be ready to rejoin the Phillies by May 3.

And Lidge appeared optimistic about his progress. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Lidge will pitch another inning Friday -- he will head to Reading, since Lehigh is going on the road -- and then be extended to two innings Monday.

"I think I'll use these next outings to really make sure it's exactly where I want," Lidge said. "And my fastball control and command is definitely better than last year, I can tell you that right now."

Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.