Lidge glad for fresh start, chance to close in Philly Print
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Thursday, 08 November 2007 14:36
MLB Headline News

 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Brad Lidge knows his fall as an elite closer in Houston is often pinned on that mammoth home run he gave up to Albert Pujols during the 2005 NL championship series.
That shot changed Lidge's reputation as one of the most reliable relievers in the game. After two more up-and-down seasons in Houston, Lidge will get the fresh start he wanted in Philadelphia.
``Initially, it was challenging because that's why most people felt I wasn't having success, even though I had to battle through a few other things,'' Lidge said Thursday. ``Whether that was the case or not, I still believe a change of scenery is probably good for. I think Houston, in some ways, became a little stale.''
The NL East champion Phillies acquired Lidge from Houston along with infielder Eric Bruntlett on Wednesday night for speedy outfielder Michael Bourn, right-hander Geoff Geary and minor league third baseman Mike Costanzo.
The 30-year-old Lidge was 5-3 with 19 saves in 27 chances and a 3.36 ERA for the Astros last year after converting 32 of 38 opportunities in 2006. He lost his closer's job to Dan Wheeler one week into the 2007 season but regained the role in mid-June.
``I do feel like the last two years in Houston have not been my best,'' he said. ``I feel like I'm capable of a lot better. I'm hoping a change of scenery will bring out the best in me.''
The trade allows the Phillies to move Brett Myers, who went from opening day starter to closer in May, back into the starting rotation. Myers was on the mound when the Phillies clinched the division and enjoyed finishing off games in pressure-filled situations. But the Phillies rotation, decimated by injury and ineffectiveness last year, sorely needed a No. 2 behind ace Cole Hamels and Myers should ably fill that role.
``We put him in a tough role as a closer, having never done it, and he excelled at it,'' pitching coach Rich Dubee said. ``He can excel as a starting pitcher, and has, in the past.''
Dubee said the Phillies did not consider using Lidge and Myers as a formidable 1-2 punch in the bullpen.
Lidge, an All-Star in 2005, held batters to a .218 average and averaged 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings this year. He was sidelined from mid-June to mid-July because of a pulled oblique muscle in his left side.
Lidge had surgery on Oct. 1 to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. He hopes to shed his crutches next week and expects to be ready for the start of spring training.
``I don't suspect it will affect anything at all,'' Lidge said. ``There were times when it was awfully painful, to be totally honest, and times where it didn't bother me at all.''
Lidge said it was more than the three-run homer to Pujols with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the St. Louis to a 5-4 win in Game 5 of the 2005 NL championship series that led to his troubles in Houston. Lidge said on Thursday he changed his mechanics too much to prepare for the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and never recovered.
He allowed 25 walks and seven home runs in the first four months of the 2006 season after giving up only 23 walks and five homers in all 2005, and manager Phil Garner yanked him from his closer's role in mid-August. Garner changed Lidge's role in the back end of the bullpen several times over the last two years, which affected his confidence.
With his mechanical woes resolved and his injuries almost behind him, Lidge is ready to return to his All-Star form in Philadelphia.
``Hopefully I can have the best year of my career coming up,'' he said.

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