MIAMI – Cliff Lee is almost ready to return to competitive action.
The Phillies' left-hander threw a 60-pitch simulated game Tuesday afternoon at Marlins Park. Lee threw all his pitches at maximum effort.
Lee will be evaluated on Wednesday. If he bounces back OK from Tuesday’s work, he will head over to Clearwater and pitch in a minor-league game Sunday. There’s a chance Lee could return to the big-league rotation five days later. If club officials believe he needs a second minor-league rehab start, he won’t return to the rotation until after the all-star break.
Lee has been on the disabled list since May 20 with an elbow strain.
The pitcher was pleased with the way his arm felt during Tuesday’s workout.
“It feels fine,” he said. “I’m on pace. A couple of rehab games and I should be back.”
Lee could be a hot commodity at the trade deadline, but he will have to prove himself completely healthy for another team to take on his salary (he is guaranteed $37.5 million after this season) and give up players. If Lee comes back before the all-star break, he could make four starts before the deadline. If he comes back after the break, he will make three starts before the deadline.