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Lidle backs off criticism, but Rhodes keeps firing

ST. LOUIS -- Cory Lidle backed off his critical comments
that some of his former Philadelphia Phillies teammates did not
expect to win, saying Tuesday that incessant trade talk sapped the
team of enthusiasm.

Phillies reliever Arthur Rhodes did not back off his assessment
of Lidle, acquired by the Yankees on Sunday, as a player who did
not work at his craft and could be found in the clubhouse surfing
the Internet or eating ice cream during games.

In talking about his stint with Philadelphia, Lidle said Monday
that "on the days I'm pitching, it's almost a coin flip as to know
if the guys behind me are going to be there to play 100 percent."
He noted he was joining a Yankees team that expects to win all the
time.

"That's why I'm most excited about it," Lidle said.
"Sometimes I felt I got caught up kind of going into the clubhouse
nonchalantly sometimes, because all of the other guys in the
clubhouse didn't go there with one goal in mind."

Rhodes responded by calling Lidle, who crossed the picket line
during the 1994-95 strike, a "scab," and a player who spent too
much time flying his airplane and gambling.

Lidle, 8-7 with a 4.74 ERA in 21 starts with the Phillies, said
Tuesday that "what I meant and I think what I said was a little
bit different."

"What I meant was over the last couple weeks, when the trade
rumors started, we had about 10 to 13 guys that possibly thought
they could have been traded. And on any given day, it just seemed
like the focus wasn't always on baseball."

Lidle also said he felt he had a good relationship with his
ex-teammates.

"I made a lot of good friends in Philadelphia and the last
thing that I would want to do is dog anyone in that clubhouse," he
said. "If I made it sound like that, it was a mistake."

Rhodes was unimpressed, and chided Lidle again for criticizing
the Phillies.

"He backtracked a lot of stuff," Rhodes said. "He's with the
Yankees, you know he's going to have to backtrack."

Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel didn't seem overly bothered
by the flap, saying it was a predictable occurrence for an
underachieving team. The Phillies were 49-55 entering a three-game
series in St. Louis on Tuesday night.

"I think sometimes when you're losing a lot of frustration
comes out," Manuel said. "Also a lot of finger-pointing or
name-dropping."

Still, he took the criticism personally.

"I took it as a shot like we weren't playing hard," Manuel
said. "If you watch us, we make mistakes, but we run balls out, we
hustle, we do things the right way. We just haven't really been
executing right."

Manuel said he's a stickler for players being on the bench when
the game starts, although after the first pitch he admitted there
was less control.

"During the game sometimes I don't have time to run around and
go find my players, but at the same time you're supposed to be on
the bench when the game's going on," Manuel said. "I've always
addressed those problems, not only with Cory but with anybody else
that would do that."

Manuel would not say he was glad Lidle was gone, and would not
judge his effort.

"All the years I've been in baseball, there's always somebody
on your team that you would question how much he wants to win, but
you never can prove it," Manuel said. "I had no problem with Cory
at all.

"Matter of fact, if he goes over there and pitches good and
helps them, I would pull for him."

Rhodes said he hasn't spoken to Lidle since he confronted the
pitcher for being on the Internet during a game in New York in May.

"I told him you've got to be out there for the first pitch and
he got mad at me," Rhodes said. "That meant he didn't want to
win, he didn't want to go out there and root the team on."

Rhodes also said he's not alone in being critical of Lidle for
crossing the picket line in 1995. He said closer Tom Gordon and
catcher Mike Lieberthal and "some of the other guys on the team"
remained offended.

"It still hurts my feelings," Rhodes said. "Once you cross
the picket line, you cross the line, and everybody knows it."

Lidle said Tuesday that he wasn't hurt by being called a scab,
but he had thought he and Rhodes had a good relationship. Lidle
said they played golf and cards together.

"I didn't expect Arthur, of all people, to say anything,"
Lidle said. "Me and Arthur got along great over there.

"For that to come out was kind of surprising."

Lidle said different players have different ways of preparing.
He said he spends more time in the video room.

"I may not be in the weight room as much as some guys, but I
get my work done," he said.