PHILADELPHIA -- Brad Lidge admitted he was nervous when he took the hill for the seventh inning on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. But he put the nerves behind him and tossed a scoreless inning in his first big league action of the season.
"In some aspects, the butterflies I had today were like my big league debut," Lidge said after a 5-4 loss to the Padres. "It wasn't quite there, but it was close."
Lidge threw his slider on nine of 11 pitches. He said that pitch felt as good as ever. He figures to mix in his fastball, which topped out at 90 mph, more as he moves forward.
"When you're feeling healthy, and you're coming back from rehab, then you know it's a matter of time before you're firing on all cylinders," Lidge said. "Today was a great first step for me."
Lidge gives manager Charlie Manuel another arm to turn to in the late innings. The former closer, who went 48-for-48 in save chances for Philadelphia's 2008 World Series-winning club, is in an equivocal situation after only being activated last Friday because of a strained right posterior rotator cuff.
Ryan Madson is being eased back into the closer's role, and Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes were superb in late innings while Lidge was out.
Lidge said he will let Manuel dictate his role. The Phils' skipper now has an abundance of relievers who have produced in the seventh inning on. He said after Monday's game that Stutes could see more work in multiple innings, and he'll be more apt to give the rookie more rest, so he can pitch two innings in some outings. Stutes pitched two scoreless innings on Monday, with two strikeouts. Manuel said the righty would not pitch Tuesday unless it was necessary.
It also gives Lidge more opportunities to pitch, which he'll need to develop his stuff and be effective down the stretch. He said he wants the ball when it means something, like Monday, when the Padres led by one run at the time he was summoned.
"I like to be pitching in all close games whenever I can," Lidge said. "It's kind of tricky in my mind to set myself up to do something of any exact role, just because I don't know what Charlie's going to want me to do."
Nate Mink is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.