Cliff Lee throws off a mound for the first time since being diagnosed with a left elbow strain

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CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury has the story

Cliff Lee says he has made excellent strides in his recovery from an elbow strain over the last few days. The left-hander was able throw from a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list and he was pleased with the results.

“It feels real good,” Lee, who threw 20 fastballs but no breaking pitches, told Salisbury. “I was letting it go pretty hard, pretty much max effort. … I can tell there’s something there, but there’s nothing painful of uncomfortable.”

The veteran left-hander is aiming to return to the Phillies’ starting rotation before the July 14-17 All-Star break. If he achieves that goal and then shows that he is fully healthy, he’ll be a big time target for contending teams leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.

Lee, 35, owns a 2.83 ERA (136 ERA+) in 103 starts since joining Philadelphia in 2011.

He is making $25 million this season and is owed another $25 million next season.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.