Saturday, February 6, 2016

The plan for Cliff Lee

A timetable for Cliff Lee's return from a strained left elbow crystallized Monday, and he is unlikely to pitch prior to the all-star break.

The plan for Cliff Lee

Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press/AP)
Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press/AP)

A timetable for Cliff Lee's return from a strained left elbow crystallized Monday, and the Phillies star lefthander could be sidelined until after the all-star break.

Lee, by all accounts, has progressed well from the injury that forced him to the disabled list May 19. But the process to rebuild arm strength requires time. The Phillies will be deliberate with Lee.

"He is passing all the tests," manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Lee will throw an elongated bullpen session Tuesday, one that will simulate downtime between innings. After that, Sandberg said, Lee could progress to a simulated game. That is tentatively scheduled for Saturday at Citizens Bank Park, provided that Lee emerges from his Tuesday bullpen session without issue.

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Lee, then, could graduate to minor-league rehab games. Sandberg anticipated Lee would need at least one or two minor-league starts. The manager was not sure of an exact number, but starting pitchers usually need more than one to reach the requisite number of pitches needed. If Lee follows a normal starter's schedule - four days between throwing sessions - he could return on the final day before the break, July 13. The Phillies, though, could push him to July 18 or 19 to ensure that his arm is strengthened.

That would mean Lee could start just three games before the July 31 trade deadline, which would complicate any potential trade.

Adams' slow progress

Mike Adams (right shoulder inflammation) does not expect to return until sometime in late July. Adams has not thrown a ball since June 6 and was injected with cortisone June 14.

"The main thing is I want to make sure I strengthen it enough and hopefully not have more setbacks, so we'll see," Adams said. "Still a lot of steps to clear. I really don't know where we stand right now."

Extra bases

Tony Gwynn Jr. (bereavement leave) will rejoin the team Monday, Sandberg said. ... Lefthander Andrew Heaney, the Marlins' top prospect, will make his second major-league start Tuesday. He held the Mets to one run over six innings in his debut last week.

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