Brad Lidge unlikely to be ready for Opening Day

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Brad Lidge told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he was “pretty pleased” with his 16-pitch appearance in a minor-league game this afternoon, but also admitted afterward that he’s unlikely to be ready for Opening Day following offseason knee and elbow surgeries:

It’s going to be really tough to be ready for the opener. In my mind I’m still shooting for it, but I don’t know if that’s realistic. … I want to be out there as much as I can, but we’ve got a deep bullpen. Obviously, we’ve got guys that can get it down while J.C. [Romero] and I are getting our arm speed back.

If we were on a bubble team and we had to be ready from Day 1 that’s one thing, but I think our team can cover just about anybody at any position for a week or two. That’s the fortunate part of being on a team as good as us.

Lidge estimated that he’ll need to make nine more appearances before being ready for the season and pegged the April 9-11 series against Houston as a more realistic time frame for his debut. Ryan Madson is the favorite to fill the closer role in his absence, although the Phillies may also give Danys Baez some ninth-inning duties after signing him to a two-year, $5.25 deal in January.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.