PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel had said he wanted Brad Lidge to pitch in non-save situations before he returned to closing duties.
But after Lidge allowed one hit and struck out two in the ninth inning in Monday's 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park, Lidge could be closing games soon. At least that is how Manuel sounded.
"His stuff was better tonight," Manuel said. "Yeah, tonight he looked ready. His stuff was better. His slider was better. His fastball was better. Everything about it was better."
Lidge's fastball hovered in the 93-95 mph range, and he showed a nice slider, which he threw for strikes.
"I definitely felt real good tonight," Lidge said. "I feel ready, but I won't take anything for granted. I'll be ready to throw whenever they want me to throw. That being said, tonight was the first night where we kind of went out and just threw four-seam fastball and slider and had some good results with it. It really felt like it came out of my hand better than it has in a long time."
Manuel said left-hander J.C. Romero, who also came back following offseason elbow surgery, is "close to being ready to pitch an inning, you know what I mean? Or four hitters. I think he's getting very close. I think he's definitely ready to go in the eighth or the ninth inning."