Joe Blanton wasn't exactly perfect in his outing with the Double-A Reading Phillies Friday night, but he was close enough. Over three innings of work,
Blanton threw 45 pitches, giving up four hits and a walk, but pitching out of
jams to keep Richmond off the board during his outing. Blanton allowed two
singles in the second, including one with two outs. He came back to get the
final out - a weak fly ball to center field - without any damage.
In the third, Blanton put himself in serious trouble, but again worked
himself out of the jam. After giving up a leadoff double, Darren Ford singled to
left to put runners on first and third with nobody out. Blanton literally took
on a different appearance in his determination and picked Ford off of first and
then struck out Brandon Crawford for the second out of the inning. To make
things a little more challenging, Blanton walked Thomas Neal to again put
runners on the corner, but got Roger Kieschnick to strike out swinging to end
Blanton was just about where the Phillies wanted him to be on his pitch count
and so far, his rehab assignment has gone pretty well. Obviously, Blanton isn't
close to returning to the rotation and will likely make at least two more starts
before there is even any consideration given to putting him back into the
Phillies rotation. His next outing will likely come on Wednesday at Reading.
From there, Blanton will likely move up to pitch for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs
and his first start there would likely come on Monday May 3. From there, he
could potentially be activated from the DL.
When Blanton exited, Brad Lidge followed him to the mound. Lidge, making his
sixth rehab appearance and first with Reading, was pitching in back-to-back
games for the first time. Lidge threw a shutout inning for Lehigh Valley
Thursday night and did the same for Reading on Friday. Lidge gave up a one-out
walk, followed by a single to center field, but got two ground balls to short to
finish off Richmond in the top of the fourth. In his one inning of work, Lidge
threw 18 pitches.
After his outing with Lehigh Valley, Lidge said that he felt like he was
getting close to being able to pitch at the major league level. On Friday, he
reiterated that he's getting close and feels better every time that he takes the
mound. "I actually felt better today than yesterday," said Lidge.
"I'm very encouraged."
The plan for Lidge now, will be a couple of days off before another
appearance with Reading on Monday and then his situation will be reevaluated to
determine whether he will continue his rehab assignment or join the Phillies.
It's likely that Lidge won't rejoin the Phillies until they come off of their
three-city road trip, which concludes in San Francisco next Wednesday. From
there, the Phillies will enjoy an off-day on Thursday before a weekend series
against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Lidge is hopeful that he'll be ready for
"At this point, it's really just fine tuning," reported Lidge after
his outing at Reading.
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