Lidge pleased with latest step forward

Lidge pleased with latest step forward

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Brad Lidge looked up proudly at the question regarding his Irish heritage.

"I sure am," the Phillies closer said, explaining that he's Irish on his mother's side. "I'll probably slip in a green beer at some point today."

Lidge, who also attended Notre Dame University, had other reasons to smile after throwing a second round of batting practice on Monday, crossing that part off his checklist.

Next, he'll pitch in a Minor League game on Thursday and possibly a Grapefruit League game on Sunday.

"I felt real good, especially the last five or so pitches when I cranked it up," he said. "I feel great about where I'm at. I still have some work to do, but I feel like the work I have to do isn't far off from what I'd normally do at this point in Spring Training."

The Minor League game represents a new challenge because fielding and agility at game speed may enter the equation. Lidge said he also needs to hone his location, which is normal for him at this point."

Is there any way he won't be ready for Opening Day on March 31?

"I hope not," he said. "I don't want to say it's by any means smooth sailing [from here]. There could be something, but I don't know what that could be. Right now, [my right knee] feels pretty darn good."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.