Lidge: 'Disappointed' and 'excited'
January 26, 2012, 5:10 pm
About 10 days ago, Brad Lidge learned he wasn’t in the Phillies' plans for 2012.
Three days ago, he wanted to hear it for himself.
He called general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
“Ruben was honest with me and I appreciate that,” Lidge said hours after signing a one-year contract with the Washington Nationals on Thursday (see story)
. “I let him know I was disappointed, but at the same time I wished him luck. There are no hard feelings. It’s part of the business.”
Lidge, 35, went into the off-season believing he had a landing spot in the Phillies' bullpen if he wasn’t able to get a job as a closer on the free-agent market.
“Initially I thought I’d be able to come back,” he said. “They knew I was going to look around and see if there was an opportunity to close. They said the door was open. Unfortunately when I came back the door was closed. It was surprising and disappointing.”
“Health was a little of it,” Lidge said. “Actually, I think it was a lot of it. They also felt they were up against the luxury tax and it wasn’t worth the risk. That surprised me because earlier in the off-season they told me I was. I understand. People change their mind. They signed some other free agents. Sometimes you have to turn the page.
“Despite everything, none of this taints the memories I have of Philly or the organization. Anytime I think of the Phillies, I will think of a first-class organization from top to bottom. ”
Lidge earned his place in the pantheon of Philadelphia sports greats when he went 48 for 48 in save chances while helping the Phillies win the World Series in 2008. Seldom does he go through a day without a Phillies fan expressing his or her appreciation.
“If I could thank each fan personally, I would,” Lidge said. “They were so amazing for me. In 2008, they brought my game to another level. It’s something that doesn’t happen anywhere else. It’s tough to compare any place to Philly.”
Lidge has spent the off-season in the Philadelphia area. He worked out at Citizens Bank Park until the holidays. A shoulder injury limited him to just 25 games last season, but he believes his off-season conditioning will put him on track to have a strong season in Washington, where he received a one-year deal worth $1 million with incentives. Lidge will add some veteran presence to Washington’s talented young bullpen, and he believes his new club can make a run at unseating his old club from the top of the NL East.
“I’m definitely excited for the new opportunity and playing for the Nationals,” he said. “They have outstanding potential. I really think we can make a playoff run.”E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org