Brad Lidge throws 24 pitches in extended spring game

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Phillies reliever Brad Lidge hasn’t pitched in a game this season because of a right posterior rotator cuff strain that he suffered near the end of March.

The right-hander took a big step forward Saturday, tossing 24 pitches in a game at extended spring training and reporting no issues with his shoulder. This according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.

Lidge will make another appearance at extended spring training on Tuesday and could progress to a minor league rehab assignment by late next week if everything continues to go smoothly.

His goal right now is to return to the Phillies’ bullpen by the end of June.

Ryan Madson has been handling save situations with Lidge sidelined and boasts 10 saves in 10 opportunities. If Madson continues performing well, he should retain ninth inning duties even when Lidge returns.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.