Lee downplays soreness, will throw Sunday

"I'm not worried about Cliff," Ruben Amaro Jr. said about Cliff Lee's abdominal soreness. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Skipping a bullpen session in late February can have little effect later, but when it's a $120 million arm not doing the throwing as scheduled, it requires attention.

So Cliff Lee's shoulder shrug and Ruben Amaro Jr.'s downplaying could all be justified. Lee did not throw his last scheduled bullpen session due to abdominal soreness. Lee said it was a "minor deal." Amaro called it "normal."

"I'm not worried about Cliff," Amaro said.

"Better safe than sorry, especially this early," Lee said. "It's really it. I didn't really think I was going to have to talk about it."

More alarms would be warranted if the soreness was in Lee's shoulder or elbow, but the abdomen is an area where Lee has experienced trouble before. In 2010, he strained an abdominal muscle and did not make his first start until April 30 for Seattle. He's had two previous abdominal strains, too.

"In the past I've had ab strains and it was a little sore," Lee said, "so I decided to skip my bullpen, which is a minor deal and just basically play it safe at this point."

Lee said he felt better Thursday and Friday and is scheduled to throw again Sunday. He says skipping the bullpen is a prudent decision he wouldn't have necessarily done previously.

"The early stages of that in the past I tried to power through it," Lee said. "I'm trying to be smarter with it now and keep it a small issue."

Lee called the end of 2011 "disappointing."

"Personally I wish I could go back and pitch Game 2 again," he said. "I had a 4-0 lead. But that's the only thing I contributed to in the postseason and I let that lead slip away, so that was disappointing for me."

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