Cliff Lee throws 4 innings in latest rehab start

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Cliff Lee throws 4 innings in latest rehab start

MILWAUKEE – Cliff Lee pitched four innings for Single A Clearwater in his second minor-league rehab start on Wednesday night.

Pitching against the Tampa Yankees in Tampa, Lee allowed four hits and three earned runs. He walked one and struck out four. He threw 59 pitches, 44 strikes.

Lee was hurt by some poor defense in the game.

Phillies officials have said Lee will need at least one more rehab start. That is likely to come on Monday for Clearwater. If Lee is healthy, he could return to the Phillies’ rotation as early as five days later while the team is in Atlanta.

Lee has been on the disabled list since May 20 with a strained left elbow.

If Lee continues to make a smooth recovery and returns to the Phillies’ rotation on schedule, he will make three starts before the non-waiver trade deadline. The lefty is expected to draw great interest on the trade front, but three starts might not be enough time for rival teams to evaluate a pitcher who is coming off an elbow injury and is owed $37.5 million after this season.

If Lee is not traded by July 31, he could go in an August waiver deal or be moved in the offseason. Then again, the Phillies could decide to keep him. It seems more likely, however, the team would look to use him as a trade chip to bring some young talent into a system that needs some.

End could be near for Jimmy Rollins, who's unlikely to make Giants' roster

End could be near for Jimmy Rollins, who's unlikely to make Giants' roster

The long-expected homecoming for Jimmy Rollins didn't go as planned.

Rollins, now 38, is unlikely to make the San Francisco Giants' opening-day roster.

"We've talked to Jimmy and he knows the scenario and the situation," manager Bruce Bochy told reporters earlier this week. "We're just waiting to hear back from him."

J-Roll was hoping to catch on with the Giants as a utility infielder. San Francisco already has an everyday shortstop in Brandon Crawford, so Rollins' role would have been to back him up, play a little second base and perhaps some third base. 

But Rollins hit just .125 this spring and fell clearly behind fellow veteran Aaron Hill, who is three years younger and at this point simply a better hitter.

Is this the end for J-Roll? If it is, he'll finish with a .264/.324/.418 batting line in over 10,000 plate appearances, 2,455 hits, 511 doubles, 231 homers and 470 steals.

Rollins is one of just four players ever with that many career doubles and steals. The others are Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb and Paul Molitor.

While some players have precipitous drop-offs that lead to retirement -- forced or unforced -- Rollins' decline has been more gradual. His batting average has dipped in each of the last four seasons, from .252 in 2013 to .243 to .224 to .221 last season. 

Rollins latched on with the White Sox last spring and was their opening-day shortstop, but he was released on June 15 as Chicago made room for top prospect Tim Anderson.

Rollins, who played 15 seasons with the Phillies, is the franchise leader in at-bats, hits and doubles. He's second in steals, third in triples and runs scored, ninth in homers and eighth in RBIs.

He also won an MVP, a World Series, four Gold Gloves and made three All-Star teams.

Enough to make the Hall of Fame? That's obviously subjective, but for as much as he did for the Phillies and for how much he impacted the game for more than a decade, Rollins' rate stats -- namely the .251/.317/.395 batting line he posted from 2008-16 -- could keep him out of Cooperstown, even though some of his counting stats are more impressive than Barry Larkin's.

Phillies finalize bullpen; final two bench jobs to be announced later today

Phillies finalize bullpen; final two bench jobs to be announced later today

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies finalized their bullpen Thursday morning and will complete the rest of their roster later in the day, manager Pete Mackanin said.

Lefties Adam Morgan and Joely Rodriguez were named to the final two spots in the bullpen after veteran Luis Garcia was optioned to Triple A.

The final two spots on the roster are both bench jobs. Brock Stassi, Daniel Nava and Jesmuel Valentin are the final candidates.

"We're going to pick two out of three and we'll know by the end of the game," Mackanin said before the Phillies were to play the Yankees in a 1 p.m. game.

There are indications that Stassi will make the roster, leaving the final spot down to Nava and Valentin. Nava is a first baseman/outfielder. Valentin, 22, is a second baseman by trade. If he doesn't make the club, he will play every day at Triple A.

Andres Blanco, Aaron Altherr and rookie catcher Andrew Knapp are already set on the bench.

Garcia was sent to the minors one day after pitching poorly against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland. He was tagged for five hits and two runs in two innings of work. One of the hits was a double. Garcia needed 45 pitches to get through the two innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.

Garcia will likely close at Triple A.

"He developed a splitter over the course of spring training and we want him to go down and work on it," Mackanin said. "It could be a real good pitch for him in the future."

As far as bullpen roles, Morgan will work as a long man while Rodriguez will be more of a situational lefty. Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, Edubray Ramos, Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek round out the bullpen.

Gomez will open the season as the closer. He saved 37 games last season but lost the job in September.

"I'm going to go with Gomez," Mackanin said. "He's going to get every opportunity to do the job. If he doesn't, we're going to take a look at it."