BARRING A SETBACK, Cliff Lee is expected to throw off the mound twice in the next 5 days as the Phillies devise a plan to get him back into game action next month.
Lee, who was placed on the disabled list with a left elbow strain on May 20, will throw an expanded bullpen session at Citizens Bank Park today. If all goes well, he'll move from the bullpen to the regular mound to pitch in a simulated game Saturday, likely before the Phillies' doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves.
Although Lee didn't throw at all for the first 3 weeks he spent on the DL, manager Ryne Sandberg has been pleased with the progress in the last 2 weeks.
"He is passing all of the tests," Sandberg said. "His first bullpen was quality with location and stuff. Then he rebounded for it. All positive stuff."
Lee is likely to rejoin the rotation following the All-Star break, although he could return before then.
If Lee progresses through the next 5 days without issue, he would likely make one or two minor league rehab starts. If he throws in two minor league games, with the normal 4 days of rest in between, Lee would be on target to make his next start on July 13, the day before the All-Star break.
The Phils could exercise caution and wait to bring Lee back after the break. But if the decision-makers - the medical staff, the front office, the training staff, Lee, etc. - think he doesn't have to make more than one minor league rehab start, Lee could return as soon as July 8.
If healthy, Lee, of course, could be a popular name if the Phillies go into sell mode before the July 31 trade deadline.
For only the second time this season, Ryne Sandberg drew up a lineup that had Carlos Ruiz hitting second, behind leadoff man Jimmy Rollins, with Ben Revere slotted eighth. Ruiz entered the day with a .380 OBP, ninth in the National League (mininum 250 plate appearances). "Just because it's working, basically," Sandberg said of his lineup. The Phillies won three of four games with Ruiz hitting second on their road trip through Atlanta and St. Louis . . . Mike Adams (right rotator cut inflammation) hopes to begin playing catch by the end of this week. He is likely 3 to 4 weeks from returning to the bullpen . . . Darin Ruf (left wrist) took part in outfield work at Triple A Lehigh Valley but his swings have been limited to work with a Wiffle ball bat . . . Tony Gwynn Jr. will return from the bereavement list today. His father, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, died last Monday.
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21