Making official what was expected, the Phillies have ruled out Cliff Lee returning to pitch again this season.
Lee is on the disabled list with a strained pronate flexor tendon and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that the team won’t even have him begin a throwing program until “October or November.”
The good news, however, is that after being examined by a specialist it’s been determined that Lee won’t require surgery. Of course, surgery or not he’s now a huge question mark at age 35 and the injury makes it tougher for the Phillies to potentially trade Lee and the $37.5 million remaining on his contract this offseason.
UPDATE: Lee has been placed on the 15-day disabled list.
8:39 p.m. ET: According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Lee has aggravated his flexor pronator strain. It’s probably safe to say that his season is over.
You can watch video of Lee leaving the game here. It’s really quite sad to watch. You can see the frustration and disappointment written all over him.
8:11 p.m ET: No trades for the Phillies today and now this: Cliff Lee was forced to exit his start against the Nationals tonight in the third inning with an apparent arm injury.
Lee gestured toward the dugout after throwing an 85 mph cutter to essentially let the training staff know that he was done. As Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com notes, the veteran left-hander also pointed toward his elbow, which is a bad sign considering he just missed two months with a flexor pronator strain. He was rather emotional in the dugout after leaving the game, so it doesn’t look good, but we’re still waiting on official word.
Lee, 35, is still owned nearly $46 million through 2015. This includes $25 million for next season and a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million club option for 2016.
Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee struggled last night in his return from the disabled list, allowing six runs in a loss to the Giants. Afterward he conducted a typical postgame media session with various beat reporters in the Phillies’ clubhouse, during which he very seriously and calmly answered their questions.
And then he ended things with a loud fart.
Oh, and luckily our friends at CSNPhilly.com caught the whole thing on video, including Lee’s “did y’all get that on tape?” They did, Cliff. They did.
John Finger of CSNPhilly.com makes an excellent point regarding the aftermath of Lee’s fart:
Baseball writers may not be able to defeat baseball players at a whole lot of things, but farting is one area they can definitely dominate.
Plenty of scouts were in attendance tonight for Cliff Lee’s first start in the majors in over two months. They likely didn’t come away impressed.
Lee, sidelined since May 18 with a left elbow strain, allowed six runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Giants. He tied a career-high by giving up 12 hits. The first 10 hits were singles, but he gave up a double to Joaquin Arias and a home run to Adam Duvall in his final inning of work. Sitting mostly in the high-80s with his fastball, he threw 59 out of 90 pitches for strikes while walking one and striking out three.
Lee projects to make just one more start before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, so he’s running out of time to prove his health and effectiveness to contenders. Of course, a deal could still happen in August, but it’s a bit more complicated. The 35-year-old is owed around $12 million for the rest of this season and $25 million for next season while his contract includes a $27.5 million vesting option or $12.5 million buyout for 2016.
Cliff Lee struggled in a minor-league rehab start Monday at Single-A, allowing eight runs and failing to make it out of the fifth inning as he comes back from elbow problems, but the Phillies have decided he’s ready to rejoin the rotation.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Lee will come off the disabled list to start Monday against the Giants, in Philadelphia. It’ll be Lee’s first big-league start since May 18 and he told Salisbury: “I feel strong and I feel good and I’m ready to try to help the team win.”
At this point it seems pretty safe to assume that the Phillies would love to trade Lee and the $37.5 million remaining on his contract beyond this season, so there should be a ton of scouts in the crowd Monday night. He’ll have time to make two starts before the July 31 deadline, but because of his contract and the likelihood it’ll clear waivers the Phillies should be able to deal him in August without having their options limited.