Tell me you haven’t heard this one before: Philadelphia Phillies‘ closer Brad Lidge is likely to spend Opening Day and the 14 days thereafter on the Disabled List.

After several offseasons filled with surgeries and rehabilitation for Lidge, he and the Phillies‘ fan base were overly optimistic of a full, healthy season from the once perfect closer.

Though he had the tell tale signs of an arm injury—most notably the lack of velocity on his fastball—Lidge told the media several times over that he was healthy. As it turns out, he’s not.

The injury came as a bit of a surprise Friday morning, as Lidge had just returned to the mound this week after being sidelined with some tendinitis. No one anticipated the news that he had been dealing with some shoulder soreness—something that he had successfully kept hidden away from the spotlight.

For that reason alone, when Lidge and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. addressed the media this morning, neither were happy to be delivering the news.

Each of the men told the media that Lidge was experiencing some discomfort in the back of his shoulder—a danger zone for pitchers—but although an MRI had not been scheduled as of yet, the soreness was expected to be just that—soreness.

The Phils’ closer doesn’t expect to have any structural damage in his shoulder.

Though the injury was kept quiet by Lidge, he did his best to reassure the club that he wasn’t being purposefully deceptive about it:

“I’m a little concerned because I haven’t had shoulder problems in the past. There was always a little pain in the back (of the shoulder), which we thought was biceps tendinitis. I haven’t had shoulder issues before. At least not for a long time.”

Still, Lidge conceded that shoulder soreness is something he has dealt with in the past, and for a guy who’s dealt with a myriad of injuries in his career, that could be a bit of a concern.

However, as long as there isn’t any structural damage in Lidge’s shoulder, which seems to be the case as of now, both Lidge and Amaro don’t expect the closer to miss an extended period of time.

So, when will Lidge return to the Phillies’ bullpen?

“We don’t think it’s going to be a long-term issue, but it could be,” said Amaro in his usual in his short, vague snippet. If Lidge opens the season on the Disabled List, the team could activate him on April 9 at the earliest.

“This is all part of the game,” said the GM. “Nobody wants injuries, but we’ll deal with them.”

So, how exactly will the Phils’ deal with Lidge’s injury? The obvious first question is who takes the mound in the ninth inning. Over the last couple of seasons, when Lidge has missed games, the closer was without a doubt Ryan Madson. Amaro wasn’t so keen on simply handing him the gig on Friday morning.

When asked who was going to be the closer in the short term, Amaro’s response was another simple, vague answer: “Whoever we think is going to be better.”

Obviously, the chances of Madson not being the closer are incredibly slim, but Jose Contreras has pitched well for the Phillies in every role they’ve assigned him, and if the team isn’t keen on changing everyone’s role, Contreas could be the guy.

Of course, Contreras will get his share of consideration for the job because of Madson’s failure in that role in the past. However, the set-up man is sure that he’s ready to become a closer, especially in his walk-year with the Phillies.

According to Madson, a conversation with his agent, Scott Boras, after he kicked a steel chair and broke his toe last season helped him adjust to a late inning role.

“He said, ‘Tell me what your mentality was when you were closing.’ I was like, I thought I was going to be perfect,” said Madson.

“I really thought I was going to be perfect and not blow one save. Well it doesn’t work that way. You’re putting too much emphasis on every pitch. Then when you blow a save, it carries on and little things happen.”

We all know that closing out ball games is as much mental as it is physical, and Madson certainly has the skill to be a closer. If that conversation with Boras really made a difference, which has yet to be seen, the Phillies may not be looking at their set-up man any longer, but their closer of the future.

As Madson prepares to open the season as the Phils’ closer, we’re left wondering just what Brad Lidge has left in the tank.

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