Daily Dose: Lidge blows another one

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Brad Lidge blew his MLB-leading 11th save Wednesday, dropping to 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA. Asked afterward why Lidge continues to receive save chances, Charlie Manuel said: “I keep sending him back out there and hopefully he does the job. That’s about all I can say. I pull like hell for him every time he goes out there.” Brett Myers isn’t an option because of shoulder problems and Manuel doesn’t trust Ryan Madson. So …
Benjamin Franklin once opined that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, which would make Manuel certifiable. Philadelphia has enough cushion in the NL East that allowing Lidge to cough up lead after lead hasn’t hurt their postseason chances, but all that margin for error vanishes in less than two weeks and the Phillies’ bullpen is as big a mess as ever.
While the “pull like hell for him” approach to managing proves dicey, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Tim Hudson allowed nine hits and two walks in six innings Wednesday, but worked around the many base runners by inducing three double plays among 16 ground-ball outs. Hudson was no sure thing to pitch at all this year after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery last August, but hasn’t missed a beat since returning last month and is now 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA through five starts.
His average fastball has clocked in at 90.1 miles per hour after living between 90.3 and 90.9 in the four seasons prior to going under the knife, his breaking-ball velocity is also similar to pre-surgery levels, and perhaps most importantly he’s maintained the extreme ground-ball tendencies that have long keyed his success. Hudson looks strong so far, but the Braves still have a tough call on his $12 million option for 2010.
* Milton Bradley issued a public statement Wednesday, apologizing to both the Cubs and fans. Meanwhile, the team agreed to make his 15-game suspension with pay so that Bradley and the players’ union wouldn’t raise a stink. In other words, he’ll make about $400,000 to take a two-week vacation and then this offseason the Cubs will do everything possible to shed the two years and $20 million remaining on his contract.
AL Quick Hits: Jermaine Dye finally snapped out of his second-half funk with a pair of homers Wednesday … Josh Beckett made a rare start without Jason Varitek as his catcher Wednesday, winning with Victor Martinez behind the plate … After a brief stint in the bullpen, Francisco Liriano is slated to replace Jeff Manship in the rotation Sunday … Justin Masterson was rocked for eight runs Wednesday, making him 1-5 with a 5.21 ERA since joining the Indians … X-rays on Jorge Posada’s injured foot came back negative, but Jose Molina got the start Wednesday … Matt Wieters went 2-for-4 with a homer Wednesday and is batting .377 this month … Tim Wakefield is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Blue Jays on a week’s rest … Carlos Guillen homered from both sides of the plate Wednesday as the Tigers stayed 2.5 games up on the Twins … Wade Davis struggled Wednesday after throwing 124 pitches in his last start … Denard Span (head) is hoping to rejoin the lineup Friday.
NL Quick Hits: Bobby Cox announced Wednesday that he’ll return for one more year as Braves manager before moving into a front-office gig … Prince Fielder smacked his 42nd homer Wednesday to take over the NL lead with 131 RBIs … Martin Prado was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup after being hit on the knee by a liner during batting practice … Lou Piniella said Wednesday that the Cubs may opt to shut Rich Harden down for the season … Chad Billingsley returned to the rotation Wednesday with nine strikeouts and a Quality Start … Carlos Ruiz (wrist) could rejoin the lineup by early next week after an MRI exam showed no structural damage … Kevin Hart was rocked for eight runs Wednesday, making him 1-7 with a 6.93 ERA since joining the Pirates … Bud Norris tossed six scoreless innings Wednesday to out-duel John Smoltz … Mark Reynolds broke his own single-season strikeout record and no one really cares … Adam LaRoche stayed hot Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

Blue Jays sign Danny Espinosa to minors deal

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Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.

Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.

Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.