Cliff Lee on track to return to Phillies’ rotation July 21

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From Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg has announced his post-all-star break rotation.

A.J. Burnett will start the first game back Friday in Atlanta. Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick will pitch the next two days.

Cliff Lee, making his final rehab start Monday in Clearwater, will start July 21 at home against San Francisco and Roberto Hernandez starts the next night.

Lee has made two minor league rehab starts for the High-A Clearwater Threshers — one sharp and the other a bit shaky. The 35-year-old left-hander has been out since mid-May because of a strained muscle in his pitching elbow.

Lee could theoretically fit in three starts for the Phillies before the July 31 trade deadline and he will be an attractive name on the block if he proves to be fully healthy in those outings. He had a 3.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 61/9 K/BB ratio in 68 innings before landing on the disabled list and owns a stellar 2.89 ERA in 814 total innings since signing with Philadelphia. Lee is making $25 million this season, owed another $25 million next season, and carries a $27.5 million vesting option (or $12.5 million buyout) for the 2016 campaign.

David Price likely to be scratched with a “barking” elbow

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David Price is reported to have a “barking” elbow and it is expected that the Red Sox will scratch him from tonight’s start against the Royals in Boston. Dan Shaughnessy reports that the elbow soreness is similar to what he was feeling in the spring and that the Red Sox may place him on the disabled list. UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that the Red Sox gave Price an MRI yesterday.

Price was knocked around for six runs — five earned — in five innings against the Angels in his last start. He was also the subject of controversy soon after that after Shaughnessy reported the details of his run-in with Dennis Eckersley on the Sox team plane in June. That incident and his elbow are obviously separate things, but that’s not stopping the talk radio from people using the report of Price’s elbow to question is fortitude and stuff. Which is dumb, even if it is predictable. If you want to question Price’s character, fine, but to suggest that it’s related to his health is a silly way to go about it.

Price is 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA and a 63/22 K/BB ratio in 66 innings across 11 starts this year. The Red Sox are a half game up on the Yankees in the AL East.

The Yankees and A’s are at an impasse on a Sonny Gray deal

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There was a lot of talk yesterday that the New York Yankees and the Oakland A’s were close to a Sonny Gray deal, but that seems to be at an impasse now, as Jon Heyman reports that the A’s want either either Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres and the Yankees say both of those prospects are off limits.

Frazier, who has held his own with a .284/.299/.541 line since his callup at the beginning of the month, is a key part of the Yankees future or — if you think Brian Cashman is bluffing here — a prime trade chit for someone better than Sonny Gray. Torres, despite his season ending due to Tommy John surgery following a freak play, is widely considered the Yankees shortstop of the future. Again, no one is untouchable in the right deal, but it’s an open question as to whether Sonny Gray is really the guy you burn your top prospects for.

There are lesser pitchers for whom the Yankees could trade, such as Jaime Garcia. Or, if they want to take a chance on a rental, they could go after Yu Darvish. But at the moment it does not seem like a Gray-to-New York deal is gonna happen.