Charlie Manuel on Brad Lidge’s return timetable: “All-Star break or just before that”

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During a radio interview today Phillies manager Charlie Manuel gave an update on Brad Lidge’s health status, saying he’s “probably looking at maybe All-Star break or just before that” for the closer to return from a partially torn rotator cuff.

That’s considerably longer than the initial timetable given late last month, which had Lidge missing 3-6 weeks. However, according to Cash Kruth of MLB.com that 3-6 weeks likely represents the time Lidge will be shut down completely, at which point he could begin a throwing program and start making his way back from the injury.

Manuel tabbed Jose Contreras as the fill-in closer, bypassing Ryan Madson despite the fact that he’s consistently been the Phillies’ best reliever for the past four seasons because just about everyone involved with the team seems to believe he can’t handle ninth-inning duties. Contreras successfully converted his first save chance of the season yesterday.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.

Ervin Santana gets Opening Day nod from Twins again

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Ervin Santana will once again start on Opening Day for the Twins, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. He’ll face the Royals at home in a day game on Monday, April 3.

The last pitcher to start back-to-back Opening Days for the Twins was Carl Pavano in 2011-12.

Santana, 34, is entering the third year of a four-year, $55 million contract signed in December 2014. Last season, the right-hander finished with a solid 3.38 ERA and a 149/53 K/BB ratio over 181 1/3 innings.