UPDATE: Brad Lidge shut down for 3-6 weeks and Jose Contreras, not Ryan Madson, set to fill in

7 Comments

UPDATE: The news isn’t getting any better. Lidge told Martin Frank of the News Journal that he actually has a partially torn rotator cuff and will be shut down completely for 3-6 weeks. Frank writes that Lidge will need even more time once he’s actually able to throw and speculates that it could be early June before he returns.

5:20 PM: Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that Phillies closer Brad Lidge is now expected to miss 3-6 weeks with his shoulder injury and manager Charlie Manuel said today that Jose Contreras is his first choice to fill in.

While not surprising, that’s probably frustrating news for Ryan Madson after he said earlier this month that he’d like an opportunity to close if he’s going to stay in Philadelphia beyond this year.

Madson is the Phillies’ best reliever and one of the elite relievers in the entire National League, but he’s struggled in a few brief stints as a fill-in closer previously and everyone from Manuel, pitching coach Rich Dubee, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. seems unconvinced that he’s capable of thriving in the role long term.

Of course, Contreras hardly has a long history of closing success on his resume. In fact, he has a grand total of just four career saves. Madson has 20 career saves, including 15 in the past two seasons, and more importantly than what he’s done in a small sample of chances with ninth-inning duties is that he’s posted ERAs of 2.55, 3.26, 3.05, and 3.05 overall during the past four seasons.

Ultimately it won’t be a big deal if Lidge is able to return from the disabled list in just a few weeks, but with Madson eligible for free agency after this season it’s tough to imagine the Phillies being able to re-sign him if they won’t even let him be a fill-in closer. On the other hand, if they don’t trust him to fill in for Lidge perhaps they’re not all that interested in re-signing him anyway, which would be an odd stance given his excellence since becoming a full-time reliever in 2007.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.