DETROIT — The true intentions of any abrupt scratch, like the "stiff neck" that will sideline Cliff Lee from his scheduled start Saturday, are questioned at this time of year. The trade deadline is nearing. Lee is the finest pitching commodity available — that is, if he is on the trade block.
Regardless, the lefthander will not be pitching for the Phillies on Saturday. Raul Valdes will shift from the bullpen to make the emergency start. The decision was announced Friday by a team official at 7:37 p.m.
Lee did not display any hint of the ailment before Friday's game. He jovially talked with his friend, Jonathan Papelbon. He participated in pregame practice.
His absence comes as ESPN.com reported a late push by numerous teams to acquire Lee. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has insisted for weeks that he would not trade Lee. He said his team's best shot at contention in 2014 was with Lee and Cole Hamels atop the rotation.