The Phillies have already announced that closer Brad Lidge is going to open the season on the 15-day disabled list due to “shoulder pain.” Now they’re hoping to get a clearer diagnosis on exactly what’s ailing him.
According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Lidge will fly back to Philadelphia on Tuesday to undergo an MRI on his right shoulder because the club wants to rule out the possibility that he might have some structural damage.
Lidge pitched in two games last week, then Friday came and the Phillies decided to shut him down.
“He was actually better in his exam than he was a couple of days ago,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Sunday. “He still has some posterior soreness in his shoulder and will have an MRI Tuesday in Philadelphia. That’s where we have a baseline on previous exams Brad has had and we can compare things. We’ll go from there. We don’t have a diagnosis until we know what the MRI looks like. We’ll treat it from there.”
Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras will get save chances for however long Lidge is out.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.