Lidge not hanging head despite recent struggles

Brad Lidge would rather not talk about 2008 or 2009. Instead of focusing on the extremes of his baseball career, the Phillies closer prefers to chat about what’s happening in the moment.

“I don’t want to compare this year to ’08 or ’09,” Lidge said recently. “I feel great and I think I’m pitching good.”

His skipper agrees.

“The key is that Lidge has good command of his slider,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “He has good energy and a good smile. They way he’s smiling, you know he’s going good.”

For most of June, Lidge was smiling often. He had converted 4-of-5 save opportunities with a 3.27 ERA — until June 29. That’s when the old Lidge reared his head, blowing a three-run lead to the Reds and sky-rocketing his ERA to 5.25. Last year, such a failure might’ve lingered all season. But Lidge says that’s not true anymore.

“Last year, I didn’t have the confidence and strength that I have this year,” Lidge said. “When there are runners in scoring position, I can handle that this season. This year, there is no such trouble because I’m healthy and I’m confident I can close out games.”

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