Phillies

Brad Lidge retires a Phillie, reflects on memories

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Brad Lidge retires a Phillie, reflects on memories

The memory is still clear as can be for Brad Lidge.

From the grip he had on the baseball, to the screaming pile of players on top of him and Carlos Ruiz, the final pitch (and its subsequent result) of the 2008 World Series remains a vivid series of events to Lidge.

And even though he said it’s a feeling that’s “indescribable,” he did his best to recall that moment when he formally retired as a Phillie during a press conference Thursday at Citizens Bank Park.

“Chooch and I, we actually had the chance to talk a few days ago. We were saying when we were at the bottom of that pile neither of us could really breath, our faces were pushed next to each other, but we were still screaming,” Lidge said with a smile on his face.

“It was just that feeling, it didn't matter if the weight of the world was on you or whatever, but it felt like no one was on you at that point.”

That pitch to strike out the Rays' Eric Hinske is still etched into the minds of Phillies fans, but for good measure it was brought back to light prior to the team's Thursday night game against the Giants.

After the pitch was shown on the jumbotron, Lidge, welcomed by a roaring applause and standing ovation, walked from the bullpen to the mound and tossed out the first pitch to, none other than, Carlos Ruiz.

But it was more than just one moment or one pitch that brought Lidge back to Philly to retire.

He could have retired with the Astros and Lidge would have a solid case to back it up.

Lidge was drafted by Houston in the 1998 draft and spent five full seasons with the Astros after working through the club’s minor-league system.

But Lidge said the memories made over four years in Philly outweighed his longer stay in Houston, presenting him a simple decision on where to retire.

“Even though I did spend a little more time in Houston, this organization, what we accomplished in 2008 and the people here are so first-class that this decision became pretty easy for me,” Lidge said.

Those experiences included a perfect 2008 season for Lidge, converting 48 saves in 48 save opportunities both in the regular season and postseason. Coming off a torn meniscus he suffered that spring training, Lidge earned the MLB Comeback Player of the Year award and was eighth in NL MVP voting.

But one of Lidge’s fondest reflections on that 2008 campaign was the collective effort put forth by the Phillies.

Lidge said it helped staying in the present every time he took the hill, but it was the backing of his teammates that propelled him and the team through the season.

“There was nobody in the clubhouse who felt they were outside of or above anybody else,” the Sacramento native said. “On that team there were so many All-Stars, but everybody was playing together. The clubhouse was so tight that year it was incredible.”

Sitting next to Lidge at the press conference was current Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who doled out high praises of his former closer from both a front-office and fan perspective.

“What he did in 2008 was historical for our franchise [and] historical for our city. It was probably one of the greatest moments I've ever been around as a person who's been involved in athletics for a long, long time,” Amaro said. “As a fan and as an assistant GM that year, it was a very, very proud moment.”

Lidge didn’t fail to mention the connection he had with the city of Philadelphia during his time here.

The 36-year-old, dwelling on the aura of closing games in front of Phillies crowds, said the supporting fans were with him and behind him when the ninth inning rolled around.

“The ninth inning kind of makes people feel alive a little bit. ... You're going through it as a player, but the fans are going through it,” Lidge said. “They're kind of going through it with me. That kind of creates a bond there that's maybe different than other positions.”

Flyers fans have message for Bryce Harper at 2019 Stadium Series

Flyers fans have message for Bryce Harper at 2019 Stadium Series

Bryce Harper Mania is getting so out of control, folks in the Delaware Valley are already insinuating that Philadelphia is the slugger's home.

Really, Las Vegas is his home. Some would consider Washington, D.C. as his home, given he has played their all seven seasons of his big-league career.

But we can totally change his home to Philly. Why not?

Come home, Bryce.

A fan at Saturday night's Flyers-Penguins Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field made that message loud and clear.

The 26-year-old is the megastar free agent general Matt Klentak and company are trying to land as Harper remains out there (yes, still) with spring training well underway and exhibition games being played.

The Harper buzz has spread everywhere and even Phillies players down in Clearwater, Florida, are joining the fun.

"I saw a helicopter circling over here the other day and we were joking, saying it would be funny if he just landed here and got out," Andrew McCutchen said Saturday, via NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

Beloved former Phillie Jimmy Rollins, who now works for the club as a special advisor, was at the Flyers-Penguins game and caught up with NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark about the Harper drama.

Harper is a hockey a fan.

If he was tuning into Saturday night's game, maybe he saw the message and will "come home."

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Gabe Kapler is high on Seranthony Dominguez: 'He has no ceiling'

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Gabe Kapler is high on Seranthony Dominguez: 'He has no ceiling'

BOX SCORE 

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Seranthony Dominguez made his major league debut five weeks into the season last year and quickly became manager Gabe Kapler’s favorite bullpen weapon.

“When Seranthony is at his best, there may not be a better reliever in baseball,” Kapler said after Dominguez made his spring debut with three quick outs against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

“He has no ceiling. He can be as good as anyone in the league.”

Keeping the hard-throwing, 24-year-old right-hander healthy was a priority last season and it remains so this year. Dominguez had a 1.59 ERA in his first 29 games last season but it rose to 4.88 over the next 24. That might have been attributable to fatigue and the Phils want to guard against that this season.

“We’ve had a player plan meeting with Dominguez and one of the things we want to do is definitely stay in close contact with him,” Kapler said. “Anything that crops up for him related to fatigue, we definitely want to back off.

“We did see that giving him a little bit more rest made him more effective so we’re going to pay really close attention to that.”

It’s a balancing act for Kapler. The stakes are higher for the Phillies this year. The rebuild is complete. The talent is better. Bryce Harper might be coming. It’s time to win. There might be times, Kapler said, when he uses Dominguez on a night when “maybe he could use a little bit of rest,” and other nights when he stays away from Dominguez to preserve the life on his fastball for the long haul of the season.

Kapler admitted it was tempting to use Dominguez every night — wherever the game dictated — when he was pitching well last season. He believes the Phillies are better positioned to be able to back off Dominguez when needed this season. Hector Neris rediscovered his splitter and confidence and finished with a six-week flurry last season. Pat Neshek is healthy. Tommy Hunter and his hard cutter is back. And the addition of David Robertson, one of the most consistent late-game arms in the majors the last eight seasons, will help.

“We’ve got some pretty good weapons down there,” Kapler said. “That could lead to us being less reliant on Seranthony, even if he’s at his best.”

Nine different relievers saved games for the Phils last season as Kapler mostly used a matchup strategy late in games. He will likely use the same strategy at the outset of this season, but it would not be surprising to see Dominguez, Neris or Robertson eventually get significant save opportunities.

The game 

The Phillies lost, 3-2, to the Pirates. Dylan Cozens had a pair of doubles and Matt McBride homered. Drew Anderson starts for the Phillies against the Tigers in Lakeland on Sunday.

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