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Cliff Lee is “very close to picking up a ball”

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Finally a dose of hope for injured ace Cliff Lee …

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg told Matt Gelb at the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday evening that the left-hander is nearly over the discomfort in his pitching elbow and “very close to picking up a ball.”

Lee has been on the disabled list since May 19 because of a left elbow strain and there is still no timetable for his return to Philly’s active roster. If he makes it back before the July 31 trade deadline, he is sure to be a popular target for contending teams.

The 35-year-old owns a spectacular 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9 in 734 1/3 innings since joining Philadelphia prior to the start of the 2011 campaign. He is earning a $25 million salary this season and owed $25 million in 2015 (with a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016).

Cliff Lee can’t start a throwing program because his elbow still hurts

Cliff Lee
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For the second straight week Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee has been unable to begin a throwing program because of continued soreness in his elbow.

Lee told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that his elbow “is getting better” but the soreness “is still there a little bit.”

It’s also worth noting that Lee admitted to pitching through discomfort for several weeks before finally being shut down and placed on the disabled list on May 19, so either this current soreness is much worse or he’s changed his stance about pitching through pain.

Lee had a 3.18 ERA and 61/9 K/BB ratio in 68 innings before going on the shelf, which is pretty remarkable for a 35-year-old who was apparently hurt for a big chunk of that time and logged some big pitch counts over that stretch.

Cliff Lee still has some elbow soreness and isn’t ready to throw

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At the very least, we can say that Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee will not be ready to return from the disabled list when he’s first eligible, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that he’s still feeling some soreness in his elbow and hasn’t been cleared to resume throwing.

Lee was placed on the disabled list after his last start on May 18 due to a Grade 1-2 strain of his flexor-pronator tendon. The veteran southpaw was examined by team medical personnel today, after which Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. said that he’s “improved,” but just “not ready.” The plan calls for him to be reevaluated in three days.

Prior to the injury, Lee had a very typical 3.18 ERA and 61/9 K/BB ratio in 68 innings across 10 starts. The 35-year-old has been mentioned a possible trade candidate if (or when) the Phillies fall out of things, but he’ll obviously have to prove his health and effectiveness before there’s any chance of that. He’s making $25 million this season and another $25 million next year.

Cliff Lee diagnosed with strained elbow, pitched through pain for several weeks

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In what qualifies as relatively good news considering they sent him for MRI exam, the Phillies have placed left-hander Cliff Lee on the disabled list with a flexor strain of his elbow.

Lee has been his usual fantastic self this season with a 3.18 ERA and 61/9 K/BB ratio in 68 innings, but Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that he’s been pitching through a flexor pronator strain for three weeks. During that time Lee has thrown 106, 100, 114, and 116 pitches and going back slightly further he tossed a season-high 128 pitches against the Braves on April 16.

For now the Phillies are saying they hope to potentially have Lee back when he’s first eligible to return in 15 days–general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. called the injury “pretty mild”–but obviously that’s far from a given at this point. Phillies fans can at least stop holding their collective breath for a while, though.

Cliff Lee undergoing MRI on left elbow

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No pitcher is safe from the elbow injury epidemic.

According to CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury, Phillies ace Cliff Lee underwent an MRI on his left elbow Tuesday after complaining of discomfort. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer says the veteran ace has been pitching with a flexor pronator strain for three weeks, and now there might be further damage.

Lee tossed 6 2/3 solid innings against the Reds in his last turn through the Phillies’ starting rotation and owns a cool 3.18 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 68 total innings this season. He has never had any major elbow or shoulder issues.

Lee is making a $25 million salary this year and he’s owed another $25 million next year, so Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery (and its 12-15 month recovery process) would be a crushing blow for the Phillies.