Just a few minutes ago, in the visitor's bullpen at Turner Field, Cliff Lee took a significant step toward returning to action. He threw 20 fastballs, maximum effort, off a mound, his first such work since landing on the disabled list with a strained flexor tendon a month ago.
Lee shrugged his shoulders after the bullpen session when asked what his next step is.
"We'll know a lot more tomorrow when I see how it feels," he said.
Lee isn't ruling out a return to the active roster before the All-Star Break, although that might be a bit optimistic. A perfect progression would likely have Lee throw a longer bullpen in a couple of days, and another one two or three days after that. Factor in a couple of rehab appearances, and you are already into the first week of July. And that's an extremely optimistic progression.