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Cliff Lee faces hitters for the first time since July


Cliff Lee threw batting practice to various Phillies teammates today, facing live hitters for the first time since being shut down with an elbow injury in July.

Trade rumors figure to begin swirling again as soon as Lee shows that he’s healthy and it’s possible the Phillies may want to move him quickly rather than risking another injury sidelining the 36-year-old former Cy Young winner.

He’s owed $25 million this season and $27.5 million or a $12 million buyout for 2016, and Lee pitched well last season before the elbow problems derailed things.

Phillies “could move” Cliff Lee during spring training

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Jayson Stark of spoke to an unnamed executive who says the Phillies “could move” left-hander Cliff Lee as soon as spring training. If he’s healthy, of course.

Lee has been throwing off a mound for a while now and, barring any setbacks, he’s expected to be fully healthy for the start of camp. He’s owed $25 million this season and $27.5 million or a $12 million buyout for 2016, so obviously any interested teams will need to be convinced that he’s over the arm problems that ended his 2014 early.

Before being shut down the former Cy Young winner started 13 games with a 3.65 ERA and 72/12 K/BB ratio in 81 innings, looking more or less like his usual self at age 35.

Cliff Lee has already begun throwing off a mound

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Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday that rehabbing left-hander Cliff Lee — who was limited to 13 starts in 2014 due to a flexor pronator strain in his pitching elbow — has already thrown off a mound three or four times this month without experiencing any issues. Lee is expected to be ready for the start of spring training and will become trade bait this summer if he can prove that he’s fully healthy.

Lee is owed $25 million in 2015 and his contract carries a $27.5 million option (with a $12.5 million buyout) for 2016, so he’ll have to pitch well in order for the rebuilding Phillies to get something for him.

The 36-year-old southpaw had a 3.65 ERA and 8.0 K/9 in 81 1/3 innings last season.

He registered a 2.87 ERA and 9.0 K/9 across 222 2/3 innings in 2013.

Cliff Lee close to throwing off mound

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Cliff Lee managed to avoid surgery after being limited to just 13 starts last season due to a flexor pronator strain, but he’s still a big wild card coming into 2015. The Phillies hope to get a sense on his progress soon.

According to Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. said yesterday that Lee is expected to throw off a mound in the next week to week and a half. The veteran southpaw has been long-tossing without pain, but the Phillies aren’t sure what to expect from him yet. Amaro could probably best be described as cautious:

“That will be a good test for him, and we’ll find out more about how he’s progressing,” Amaro said before noting the lefthander’s health is “still a question mark, and until he’s pitching in spring training and pitching like we hope Cliff Lee will pitch, then we’ll know that he’s healthy and ready to go.”
Lee, 36, is owed $25 million this season and his contract includes a $27.5 million club option with a $12.5 million buyout for 2016. With the Phillies in rebuild mode, he will likely become a trade candidate if he can prove his health and effectiveness.

Are Cliff Lee, Marlon Byrd and Jonathan Papelbon “bad guys” in the clubhouse?

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With the caveat that the guy tweeting this isn’t considered the most reliable guy on the planet, I offer you this:

I really don’t follow the Phillies clubhouse dynamics terribly closely, so I’ll defer to Bill or some of you commenters who know about this stuff more than me, but I find this rather surprising. Mostly because I can’t remember any dustups in the Philly clubhouse outside of some bristling at Ryne Sandberg over the past year. All of which I chalk up more to a veteran team not much liking losing and, possibly, not much liking a change in habits and routines.

Part of me wonders if this isn’t a function of a Phillies team wanting to unload pricey veteran players with big contracts, realizing they won’t get a ton of value for them and wanting to set the stage to make up for that publicly by arguing it was addition by subtraction or some such when they get pennies on the dollar. Wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has been done.