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Key Philadelphia Phillies relievers are making progress

CLEARWATER — In 2008, they comprised the back end of the best bullpen in baseball on the season's best team.

Last year, J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge had the worst seasons of their careers.

After a winter filled with surgeries and soul-searching, the two were on neighboring mounds Sunday in the Phillies bullpen for the first time in a long while.

Romero threw off the hill for the first time since elbow surgery in October to repair a torn flexor tendon, while Lidge experimented with his noted slider for the first time since elbow and knee surgeries in the offseason.

Romero threw 23 pitches, all fastballs, and Lidge threw 35.

They are still behind the rest of the pitchers in camp, and both could miss the opening week or two of the season. However, both remain optimistic that they can fly north with the defending NL champions for opening day.

"I want to be ready when the season starts," Romero said. "I have to be realistic because I know I'm a little behind as far as the schedule goes, but I'm a very positive person … and my goal is to break camp with the team."

Romero will throw again Wednesday and is expected to up his pitch total to around 30. Lidge will throw again Tuesday, falling into an every-other-day routine.

"Each time, I'm throwing a little better than before," Lidge said.

Jays: McGowan won't be rushed back

DUNEDIN — Dustin McGowan pitched to major-leaguers Sunday for the first time in more than a year and a half.

Making the opening-day roster is not a priority for the Blue Jays, and it shouldn't be for McGowan, either.

"We've talked to him about it. That date is nonexistent for us with him," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "If it happens to fall on that date, great. If it happens a week later, that's fine as well, even three month after that."

McGowan, 27, last pitched on July 8, 2008. He has had shoulder and knee surgery since.

McGowan said he threw 25-30 pitches in the bullpen and about 20 to batters.

"I didn't know what to expect," he said. "But we didn't call any inside pitches. I was just trying to get a feel for pitching again and just finding the plate.

"The important thing is that I got to do it and everything felt good. I enjoyed it, having fun again."

Yanks: New reliever Park joins club

TAMPA — South Korean RHP Chan Ho Park took part in his first workout with the Yankees.

Park, 36, agreed to terms last week on a $1.2 million, one-year deal with an additional $300,000 in incentives.

"He's a guy we've noticed the past few years, how he plays up out of the bullpen," general manager Brian Cashman said.

Park had a 4.43 ERA in 45 games with the NL champion Phillies last season but a 2.52 in 38 relief appearances. He pitched 31/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees in the World Series.

"He got big outs for Philly," Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez said. "Had a great year last year. He was a great weapon and hopefully can be the same for us."

fast facts

Yankees

Where: George Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa

Phillies

Where: Carpenter Complex and Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Blue Jays

Where: Englebert Complex, 1700 Solon Ave., Dunedin

Key Philadelphia Phillies relievers are making progress 02/28/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 28, 2010 8:59pm]

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