Houston return excites Lidge, Bruntlett

Houston return excites Lidge, Bruntlett

WASHINGTON -- Eric Bruntlett owns cowboy boots, but didn't pack them. Brad Lidge recently sold his house just outside of Houston.

As a result, both will feel like outsiders for their return trip to Texas.

"It will be strange being on the other side of the field and in the other clubhouse," said Bruntlett, who debuted with the Astros in 2003, and had been there ever since.

"It will definitely be a different perspective," Lidge said. "I've never been in [the visitor's] bullpen. It will be fun to go back and talk to the guys. There's not a whole lot left, Lance [Berkman], Roy [Oswalt], Brad [Ausmus], and obviously I played with some of the guys last year. It won't be too crazy, but it will be a little unusual warming up in that bullpen."

Lidge came up in 2002, and saved 130 games for the Astros, including the playoffs. He also blew one, on Oct. 17, 2005, when St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols blasted a three-run game-winning home run -- at home -- in the National League Championship Series.

Though the Astros advanced to the World Series, many believed Lidge wasn't the same pitcher. He posted a career-worst 5.28 ERA in 2006, before rebounding with a 3.36 ERA in 2007, though he shuttled between closing and setting up.

In November, he welcomed a trade to Philadelphia and has gone 11-for-11 in save opportunities. His final save as an Astro came on Sept. 29, and he thought when the season ended that he wouldn't be somewhere else in 2008.

"I had a feeling and braced myself [to leave]," Lidge said. "It was still surprising when it happened, because that was the only team I'd been with. There's definitely a lot of memories. I can't say exactly what I'll feel walking on the field, but it will be weird."

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