CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury has the story …
Cliff Lee says he has made excellent strides in his recovery from an elbow strain over the last few days. The left-hander was able throw from a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list and he was pleased with the results.
“It feels real good,” Lee, who threw 20 fastballs but no breaking pitches, told Salisbury. “I was letting it go pretty hard, pretty much max effort. … I can tell there’s something there, but there’s nothing painful of uncomfortable.”
The veteran left-hander is aiming to return to the Phillies’ starting rotation before the July 14-17 All-Star break. If he achieves that goal and then shows that he is fully healthy, he’ll be a big time target for contending teams leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Lee, 35, owns a 2.83 ERA (136 ERA+) in 103 starts since joining Philadelphia in 2011.
He is making $25 million this season and is owed another $25 million next season.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.