The Phillies have just released a statement on Cliff Lee, announcing that they have placed him on the 60-day disabled list with a right forearm strain. They characterize it as the same injury that disabled him in 2014. Basically, the tear in his flexor tendon.
The statement goes on to say that surgery has been recommended. However, since that would end his 2015 season, he and the team have decided to go with rehabilitation once again rather than lose the year. He will immediately be shut down and will go home and the team will check on him periodically to see if he has responded well to the rest.
Unspoken in that statement is that Lee is under contract through this season, so if he goes under the knife his career with the Phillies is over. From the Phillies perspective, if he rehabs, they may at least get something from him during the course of the season. From Lee’s perspective, if he rehabs, he may be able to at least go out on the mound, as an active player, given that it is not particularly likely that anyone would take a chance on him after this season. And he may not want to pitch after this season anyway. So this route makes sense as, perhaps, the only possible way in which Lee’s career can continue. And even then, only for a short time.
Brush away all of the calculations, and it’s hard to take this announcement as anything short of an acknowledgment that Lee’s career is over at age 36.