Brad Lidge needs “about six more appearances” in the minors

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Brad Lidge threw a scoreless inning last night at Double-A in his fourth minor-league rehab appearance, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be cleared to return from the disabled list this week.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Lidge “still could require about six more appearances” in the minors before the Phillies consider activating him, which jibes with the rehab timetable laid out by the team earlier this month.

Lidge has been on the DL for the entire season with shoulder and elbow problems, but has thrown four innings of one-run ball in the minors while striking out six and walking none.

Jose Contreras’ recent setback means the Phillies need a healthy Lidge in the second half more than ever, but Ryan Madson being on the verge of returning from his own stint on the DL gives them some leeway to be cautious with Lidge’s comeback. Oh, and having the best record in baseball at 57-34 helps too. Philadelphia’s focus at this point should be October, not July.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.