On Monday night, in a non-save situation with his team trailing by four runs, Brad Lidge(notes) was allowed to face the heart of the Cardinals batting order. This was clearly not a high-leverage scenario, but it was nonetheless an important test for Lidge. He began the inning by striking out Ryan Ludwick(notes), then he retired Albert Pujols(notes) on a fly-out. Matt Holliday(notes) doubled to left, but then the scorching hot David Freese(notes) struck out swinging. Lidge's slider was the finishing pitch on both Ks; his fastball ranged from 93-95.
All things considered, a quality effort. Following the loss, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel suggested that Lidge might be ready to return to the closing role fairly soon. This via MLB.com:
"His stuff was better tonight," Manuel said. "Yeah, tonight he looked ready. His stuff was better. His slider was better. His fastball was better. Everything about it was better."
The jump in velocity is certainly encouraging. It's beginning to sound as if we won't see Jose Contreras(notes) in the ninth after all. Shame. I'd just talked myself into the possibility that he could be randomly not terrible. Contreras' name was very nearly bolded below…
• The Texas closing situation remains a tag-team effort. Neftali Feliz(notes) had to bail out Frank Francisco(notes) on Monday night, and he's pitched clean innings in three straight appearances (a rarity for Rangers closers this year). He's the guy I'd prefer to own, although manager Ron Washington seems determined to bestow fantasy value upon Francisco. Feliz has pitched on consecutive days, so he figures to get the night off on Tuesday.
• Mariano Rivera(notes) was unavailable on Monday due to "stiffness in his side," so Joba Chamberlain(notes) earned a save against Baltimore. Right now, it sounds as if Rivera owners don't really have much to be concerned about. This via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News:
Rivera said he would have pitched through it if this was September or October, but there was no reason to push the envelope in May.
"We're just taking it day-by-day," Rivera said. "Hopefully tomorrow I'm going to throw on the mound and we'll go from there. Hopefully tomorrow will be a good day."
No need to push Rivera when you're facing the O's with a three-run lead. The Yanks should give the lay-up saves to Joba more often.
• Octavio Dotel(notes) was unavailable for the Pirates on Sunday because he flew to Pittsburgh to be with his wife, who was due to give birth. Dotel gave up a lead-off double to the obstetrician, advanced her to third on a wild pitch, then issued walks to the L&D nurse and anesthesiologist. He was relieved by Evan Meek(notes), who delivered a boy. Dotel is expected to be in uniform on Tuesday for the beginning of a nine-game home stand.
• Kerry Wood's(notes) first rehab appearance at Double-A Akron did not go well: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 WP. But at least he's pitching again. "I felt good, so that's the most important thing for me," Wood told the Akron Beacon Journal. The original plan was for him to make one more appearance at Double-A, but Monday's outing could lead to a longer stay. Here's Manny Acta, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
When asked when Wood might be ready to rejoin the Indians, Acta threw up his hands and said, "Stop, stop, stop. One day at a time."
• Brian Wilson(notes) (groin) is expected to return to closing duties for the Giants on Tuesday, so you're free to launch Romo and/or Affeldt.
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