PHILADELPHIA -- Perhaps surprisingly, the ninth inning has been the least of the Phillies' worries this season.
First Jose Contreras filled in for the injured Brad Lidge, and he was perfect. Then Contreras got hurt, Ryan Madson filled in, and he's been just as perfect.
Now Contreras is on his way back.
And so, against all odds, is Lidge.
His shoulder injury sounded ominous when he went on the disabled list in the final week of spring training. Phillies people wondered if he'd pitch at all this season.
But Lidge will head to Florida on Sunday, and he said Friday night that he may be only 2-3 weeks from rejoining the Phillies' bullpen. Even he seems surprised by how good he feels, and how fast he may be coming back.
"I can tell you I feel very strong," he said. "I can tell you I haven't felt this strong in a long time."
At this point, no matter how good Lidge feels, it's hard to believe the Phillies would go away from using Madson as the closer. He's 8-for-8 in saves, and has a 0.50 ERA in 18 appearances.
He also has a walk-in song that fits his situation perfectly: Journey's "Don't stop believin'."