According to Ruben Amaro Jr., Phillies closer Brad Lidge has a posterior rotator cuff strain and will be sidelined up to six weeks. In his place, Jose Contreras will fill the ninth inning duties.
Also, Ben Francisco will be the new starting right fielder on Opening Day against the Astros.
The Lidge news is not a shock – he’s been dealing with this injury for most of the spring and the Phillies felt it was best to shut him down for a while following today’s MRI. What does come as a bit of a shock is the insertion of Jose Contreras into the closers role. Many believe, including me, that it should be Ryan Madson and not Contreras finishing off games for the Phillies. Contreras proved last year he’s good for the role, but over a small sample size, Madson gave the Phillies the impression he was not. Either way, with those two, the bullpen is still strong at the back end.
Who will fill the void? It could very well be Michael Stutes as the final man in the pen or someone like Mike Zagurski or Scott Mathieson.
Congrats are in order for Ben Francisco. He earned his starting spot in the outfield after a stellar spring. Defensively, he still has work to do, but his work with the stick has paid off.