Cliff Lee cleared to begin rehab assignment on Sunday

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Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee threw 60 pitches in a three-inning simulated game on Tuesday afternoon and he woke up Wednesday morning without any abnormal physical issues. So he’s moving on to the next big step in his recovery from a left elbow strain.

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that Lee has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with the High-A Clearwater Threshers. This is just speculation, but the veteran southpaw will likely make a total of three rehab starts in the minors before rejoining the Philadelphia rotation shortly after the All-Star break.

Lee will be an attractive name around the July 31 trade deadline if he’s able to prove his health this month. The 35-year-old owns a stellar 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 728 strikeouts in 734 1/3 innings with the Phillies.

He is making a $25 million salary this season, owed another $25 million salary next season, and carries a $27.5 million vesting option (or $12.5 million buyout) for the 2016 campaign.