Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Knee Surgery For Lidge, Doubtful For Opener

The Phillies' biggest acquisition of the off-season, closer Brad Lidge, limped off of the mound with a reinjured knee of his push off leg after tossing one pitch in Saturday's batting practice.

Initially, it was hoped that the injury was just a case of scar tissue pulled loose.

By Sunday, Lidge was diagnosed as needing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee which was successfully completed today. He had previous surgery in October, 2007 where doctors removed torn cartilage from the same knee.

The probable prognosis after the surgery is that he'd be sidelined for three to six weeks. He is, at best, doubtful for a March 31st opener with the Washington Nationals.

Frankly, there a few puzzlements in this entire incident.

What was his rehab regiment after the October surgery? Was he sufficiently rehabilitated? How is it that a caught spike on his first pitch causes this extent of damage?

Philly.com reported on February 12 regarding Lidge's earlier surgery and rehab;

The reliever, a righty, had surgery to repair torn cartilage in early October. Midway through last season, a biting pain developed in the knee he uses to push off the mound while delivering to the plate. An MRI revealed that the cartilage had torn in two and fallen out of place.

Nevertheless, Lidge pitched his best after the injury developed, converting 19 of the 24 save opportunities he had after spending a month on the DL from mid-June to mid-July.

Speaking in the clubhouse after working out yesterday morning, Lidge deemed the knee ready to go. He has been throwing off the mound since January. If the season started today, he said, he would be healthy enough to pitch.

This above was quoted nearly a month after the Phillies announced Lidge's signing of a 1 year deal worth $6.35 million, a $1 million raise over last season.

Are we to believe that there is no rehab necessary after this latest knee surgery? Frankly, despite the predictable Phillies minimization of the injury and projected three to six week recovery time, the reality of things seems to be, don't look for Lidge before at least May 1. How can anyone project that Lidge could be ready by Opening Day 4 1/2 weeks from now?

Why was Brett Myers rushed back into the starting rotation? In an earlier article posted at the time of Lidge's acquisition in November, I commented on that very point with concern about the status of Lidge's knee.

Are there flaws in pitching coach Rich Dubee's training and exercise regiments or his coaching? I have wondered this since last season when two starting pitchers (excluding Freddy Garcia - damaged goods from jumpstreet) plus Ryan Madson, Myers, Tom Gordon and Scott Mathieson (2006) all went down.

Or are there severe, dangerous flaws on the mound in Clearwater which the Phils have as yet not rectified? Or could it be both of the above?

And so, Heaven help them; Gordon's projected as Opening Day closer with Myers back in the starting rotation.

Take me back to the days of Robin Roberts, Warren Spahn, Early Wynn Tom Seaver, Jim Bunning, Nolan Ryan or "Lefty" Steve Carlton, all of whom kept pitching and pitching, completing a high percentage of games and never, ever going down with arm, shoulder or knee woes.

Mark Burt has been a lifelong baseball fan, particularly of the Philadelphia Phillies. Shortly before the 2006 season, Mark decided to start a baseball blog -- http://www.blogging-baseball.com which is now entering it's 3rd year online.