Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

Lee’s Career on Life Support

Cliff LeeCliff Lee’s triumphant return to Philadelphia in December 2010 preceded a memorable press conference two months later at Bright House Field, where the Phillies introduced the Four Aces to a national audience.

Lee spoke that afternoon about multiple World Series championships.

He spoke in that same room this afternoon about the miracle he needs to save his career, and a five-year, $120 million contract that will end without the championship he wanted. Lee has been placed on the 60-day disabled list following a second failed attempt to rehabilitate from a torn common flexor tendon in his left elbow.

Despite the fact a handful of doctors have recommended surgery Lee will try to rehab a third time.

It is the longest of long shots.

“It’s fairly likely that it will remain the same,” Lee conceded.

Surgery would require six-to-eight months of rehab, which would end his season. Lee indicated he has little interest in surgery or rehabbing from it, and he cannot be forced to have it because doctors recommended it. But Lee also has $37.5 million remaining on his contract, including a $25 million salary this season and a $12.5 million buyout on a 2016 club option.

Lee, 36, cannot simply walk away. He cannot retire without forfeiting his contract.

There is no chance that will happen. Lee must show intent to pitch again.

The Phillies at least have insurance on Lee’s contract, although how much is unknown. But they will recoup some of his salary because it is the same injury as the one that forced him to the 60-day disabled list last July.

That should soften the blow financially, but Lee’s injury is crippling to the organization because they hoped he could return healthy and eventually trade him to a contender for a prospect or two to speed up their rebuilding process.

Those hopes are gone.

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Lee, Harang Issues Leave Rotation in Flux

cliff lee magic eight ballCole Hamels will pitch tomorrow against the Orioles at Bright House Field, which puts him on a five-day schedule to start Opening Day.

Hamels as the Opening Day starter is a no-brainer.

But what about the other spots? Some remain up in the air because of health issues. Cliff Lee is trying beat the odds and pitch with a torn common flexor tendon in his left elbow. He did not throw today, but at this point, even if he can pitch with an injured elbow, it is highly unlikely he could be ready by early April.

“He said his arm felt pretty good,” Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure said. “He just doesn’t want to push it. That’s what he told me.”

Aaron Harang has been scratched twice this month because of “lower back discomfort,” but is scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow. If that goes well, McClure said Harang will pitch Thursday against the Yankees.

“He said he can catch up,” McClure said.

Chad Billingsley threw a successful bullpen session today. He is recovering from a pair of elbow surgeries. The Phillies said he could be ready to join the rotation before the end of April.

“Exceptional,” McClure said about Billingsley’s bullpen. “You would never know he was hurt. It’s quality stuff. It really is.”

McClure said after two or three more live batting practice sessions Billingsley could pitch in a game.

Lee’s Discomfort Remains, Harang Scratched

Cliff Lee, Aaron HarangA little more than three weeks before Opening Day the Phillies have some legitimate health questions about their rotation.

Cliff Lee threw again today, but said the discomfort in his left elbow remains. He is trying to pitch with a tear in the common flexor tendon, but if he cannot pitch season-ending surgery is the next option.

The Phillies scratched Aaron Harang from tomorrow’s start against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., because he has “lower back discomfort.” The Phillies said it is precautionary, and Harang is day to day.

“I’m not that concerned about it,” Ryne Sandberg said. “It’s a muscular thing that he has.”

This is the second time Harang has missed a start this spring because of his back. He pitched Monday against the Orioles and said his back felt fine.

Hurry Up And Trade Hamels? Not So Fast

Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy HalladayShould the potentially career-ending tear in Cliff Lee’s left elbow push the Phillies into trading Cole Hamels sooner rather than later?

It makes sense. Getting something is better than getting nothing. Lee essentially is untradeable at this point, even if he finds a way to pitch this season. No team is going to give up a top prospect for a 36-year-old pitcher with continual flare ups in his elbow, especially one making $25 million this season with a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million club option for 2016.

But imagine if something unfortunate happens to Hamels, who is healthy. The Phillies will have nothing to show for their most valuable asset.

Such a loss could cripple their rebuilding plans.

But while many are pointing to the pitchers that have dropped like flies this spring, the Phillies can point to two past examples why they should not trade Hamels before they are ready:

Curt Schilling in 2000 and Lee in 2009.

Schilling had been harshly and steadily criticizing the Phillies ownership and front office for some time. He had publicly demanded a trade. It was ugly. So the Phillies traded Schilling to Arizona on July 26, 2000, more than a year before he could become a free agent, for Travis Lee, Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa and Vicente Padilla.

Former Phillies general manager Ed Wade told The Philadelphia Inquirer in Sept. 2007, that he regretted the deal.

“In retrospect, I would have held on to Schilling,” Wade said. “It would have been better if I ignored his trade demand one more time and run the risk of only getting draft picks” if he left following the 2001 season.

None of the four players the Phillies acquired for Schilling made a long term impact with the organization.

The Phillies traded Lee to Seattle for prospects Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez, the same day they announced they acquired Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays in December 2009. The Phillies traded Lee, who was making an incredibly affordable $9 million in 2010, because former president David Montgomery told general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. he needed to replenish the farm system after trading seven top prospects to acquire Lee from the Indians in July 2009 and Halladay.

Amaro said he could not wait because he could not acquire Halladay one day then trade Lee a short time later.

He said it would have been a bad message to fans.

“If I made a mistake in that process, it was that I didn’t take the time to really maximize,” Amaro said in 2011 in “The Rotation.”

Aumont has struggled with the Phillies and it out of options. This spring is his last shot to make the team. Gillies and Ramirez are no longer with the organization.

So the Phillies are prepared to roll the dice and bet on Hamels not only staying healthy, but pitching like one of the best left-handers in baseball. It is a risk, but they have been rushed into trading aces before. They do not want to make the same mistake again.

“Look at the history of this era,” Amaro said last month. “There’s more Wild Card teams. There’s a lot more clubs with opportunities. You’ll see as many as 15 teams, half the league is kind of in the race well into the season. Everybody always needs pitching. There’s always a risk that somebody can get hurt. Somebody not getting the performance they want might change our circumstance.

“Again, if there were deals that we felt were appropriate for us to move forward then we would. So far some of the deals that we’ve discussed with some of our players have not yielded what we’ve wanted to do. And in some cases we feel like we’re better off staying with the players that we have for a variety of different reasons. We’ll move forward accordingly.”

Lee’s Elbow Feels Same After Bullpen Session

Cliff LeeCliff Lee’s left elbow did not improve today at Bright House Field, but it also felt no worse.

He threw a bullpen session in the morning, a few days after a MRI exam reconfirmed a tear in his common flexor tendon. Lee entered Spring Training feeling fine after a winter of rehab, but the discomfort in his elbow returned following a start last Thursday.

“I got through it,” Lee said today. “There’s still something there. Same as yesterday.”

Lee, 36, is trying to test the elbow to see if he can pitch through it. If he cannot, season-ending surgery is the next option, although Lee has not said if he would have surgery to continue his career. His five-year, $120 million contract expires at the end of the season, although the deal includes a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million club option for 2016.

Thursday could be an important day for him. He hopes he feels OK.

“If it starts to progress worse than obviously that’s a pretty telling sign,” he said. “If it maintains how it is then I’ll keep going.”

Lee’s Prognosis Is Not Good

Cliff LeeThe prognosis is not good for Cliff Lee.

Multiple doctors, including orthopedist James Andrews, still see the same tear in the common flexor tendon in Lee’s left elbow, which continues to cause him problems. They agree Lee should resume his throwing program to see if he can minimize the discomfort, even though it appears to be a long shot.

If he cannot pitch without pain, surgery is the next option and that could mean the end of his career.

“We’re not terribly optimistic, but there is still the possibility he can come back and throw, and throw with a minimal amount of discomfort,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said today at Bright House Field. “It got worse the last time [he tried to pitch through it], so the probability of that happening again is probably pretty high, but we don’t know that, and we probably won’t know it until he starts to throw and goes through his progressions.”

Lee, 36, has attempted to rehab twice from the injury. He tried unsuccessfully last summer and again in the winter.

“It’s not a good sign, obviously,” Lee said. “It’s not good.”

Lee pitched two innings Thursday against the Astros in Kissimmee, Fla., and said afterward he felt normal. But the following day, he felt a return of the discomfort he initially experienced last season.

Simply put, the discomfort has not gone away with rehab.

Recovery from surgery would take six to eight months, which Lee acknowledged could end his career. Lee is in the final year of his five-year, $120 million contract. He has a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million club option for 2016, but Lee has hinted in the past that he might not pitch beyond this deal.

“I’ve got a family at home and I’ve been away from them for a long time, so that is part of the equation,” Lee said. “If I were to have the surgery am I going to go through all that to try to pitch again, or am I going to shut it down? That’s a decision that I’ll have to make once that time comes, if that times comes.”

It might not take long to see if Lee can minimize the pain.

“It may take a couple of days,” Amaro said. “If he feels discomfort, then he might have to shut it down. He threw today and felt OK. Really didn’t feel anything different. It’s a very, very mild sensation he’s got in there.”

“There’s no timeline,” Lee said. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and do it as long as I can. I’m not going to go out there in pain to where something bad can potentially happen. That doesn’t make sense to me. So I’m going to play as long as I comfortably can. When it’s uncomfortable to play and it hurts to play, then it’s not worth it.”

Lee said he is comfortable with his baseball career, if he cannot pitch again.

“It’s not just results,” he said. “I feel like I’ve done everything I could in my career to give myself the best chance. If it happens to be nearing the end, it is what it is. I don’t have any regrets. So that’s the main thing. Just as long as I can look back and comfortably say, `I didn’t cheat this or cheat that. I wish I would have done this or would have done that.’ As long as I don’t do that, I can live with anything.”

The Phillies also announced catcher John Hester, who is a non-roster invitee, had surgery to repair a complex tear of the medial meniscus in his left knee. He will take at least six weeks to recover from the surgery.

Third baseman Maikel Franco also was not at Tuesday’s game because of a root canal.

Lee Hopes for Best, Knows Surgery Could End Career

Cliff LeeCliff Lee is trying to remain optimistic about his left elbow, but it must be difficult.

He is feeling discomfort in his elbow again, which is not a good sign after an offseason of rehab. Lee spoke to reporters this morning at Bright House Field, and here is some of what he had to say.

Q: What happened between Thursday’s start in Kissimmee (when he said afterward he felt normal) and the next day, when he felt something in his elbow?
A: The next day I came in and started to do my warmup stuff and felt a little something in the same spot where I felt it last year. Obviously as soon as I felt it I told the trainers and staff. We have an ultrasound machine here. When they did the ultrasound you could still see the injury from last year. As far as I know, that’s normal. They were telling me you’ll always see it in those ultrasounds and MRIs. So they saw that, then they wanted me to get an MRI to make sure it was that. Did that (yesterday). And then, the same thing, they could see the same injury from last year. There’s some mild inflammation around it. That’s really it. I know they were sending the images to (James) Andrews to let him look at it and obviously get a second opinion. He’s arguably the best in the world at stuff like that. (Michael) Ciccotti and him are going to communicate and come up with a plan for what to do. That’s really all I know at this point.

Q: How discouraging is this?
A: Obviously very disappointing with all the stuff I did in the offseason to prevent something like this from happening. It’s frustrating. There’s still a possibility it’s scar tissue and it’s normal but there’s also the possibility it’s coming back and that’s very frustrating. I just know I did everything to prevent it. That’s really all I could do so there’s nothing I look back and say, I should have done this, I should have done that. That’s not the issue. So long as I’m satisfied with how I prepared there’s nothing more I can do.

Q: How daunting would surgery be at this point?
A: Yeah, it’d be six to eight months out. So basically if I have the surgery this season will be done, possibly my career, I guess. I don’t know. We’ll have to see.

Q: Would you be surprised if you went out there today or tomorrow to throw and didn’t feel anything?
A: I would probably anticipate feeling a little something. But you don’t know until you do it. It’s not like it’s a major pain. It’s not like it’s majorly painful right now. It’s just what it felt like at the start of when I started feeling it last year. Knowing what I know now, my body does the same deal, then it’s probably going to come back. But there’s still a chance that it’s scar tissue and it’s normal.

Lee Staying in Philly? Ask Again Later

cliff lee magic eight ballIf only Cliff Lee had a crystal ball and not a $10 plastic Magic 8 Ball.

Maybe then he could see into the future and learn how much time he has left in Philadelphia.

Lee met with reporters following today’s workout for Phillies pitchers and catchers at Carpenter Complex. He finished last season on the disabled list with an injured left elbow, which scuttled any chances he could be traded this offseason. Lee has hinted in the past he would like to leave the struggling Phillies and play for a World Series contender, but he used a Magic 8 Ball he said he found in his locker to deflect those inquiries today.

“I brought this to answer my hard questions,” he said.

Questions like, “Phillies president Pat Gillick said the team would not contend until 2017 …”

“Hold on a second,” Lee said, picking up the Magic 8 Ball. “Most likely.”

So what did he think about Gillick’s comments? Lee signed a $120 million contract with the Phillies in Dec. 2010 because he believed the Phillies could win multiple World Series championships. Instead, the Phillies have not made the postseason since 2011, including a last place finish in the National League East in 2014.

Lee will make $25 million this season with a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million club option for 2016. Essentially, the Phillies front office has said the team does not expect to win throughout the remainder of Lee’s deal.

Lee picked up the Magic 8 Ball again.

“Yes, definitely,” he said, referring to Gillick’s comments.

Yes, definitely he wants to be traded?

“Let me see,” he said. “That’s another tough one. I don’t know if I want to answer that.”

He looked at the ball again.

“Very doubtful.”

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Ryno Talks Lee, Utley, Franco, Billingsley, Brown …

Cliff LeePhillies pitchers and catchers hold their first workout Thursday at Carpenter Complex, so on the eve of camp opening Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg touched on numerous topics.

Here are a few highlights from Wednesday’s nearly 30-minute press conference:

Cliff Lee. Lee finished last season on the disabled list with an injured left elbow, but his elbow is reportedly healthy. The Phillies and Lee hope so. The Phillies would like to trade him as they build for the future. “I know that he started his (throwing) program right around Dec. 1 like normal,” Sandberg said. “He had a little bit of a setback with I think a cold or upper respiratory (issue), but other than that everything’s been on schedule with Cliff. … He’s got no complaints and he’s pretty much where he usually is. So far, so good. We’ll keep an eye on him with his sides and his outings.”

Chase Utley. Utley had a solid first half in 2014 (.806 OPS through July 11), but slumped terribly in the second half (.661 OPS after July 11). Sandberg said he could give Utley more time off this season. “It’s important to have bench players that’ll be able to step in and give those guys possibly more of a rest than normal,” Sandberg said. “But that’s really up to the player and how he’s going. He had an All-Star first half of the season. Still a quality at-bat even if he made outs, still a quality at-bat. But, yeah, I see Chase getting some more days off this year.”

Maikel Franco. Franco is likely to open the season in Triple-A, but he will get a look at both third base and first base this spring. “He had an outstanding Winter Ball, so I’m anxious to see him,” Sandberg said.

Odubel Herrera.</> The Phillies selected the outfielder in the Rule 5 Draft. So far they like what they see. “He’s been impressive,” Sandberg said. “He’s a young guy that’s already opened up some eyes.”

Chad Billingsley. The Phillies hope Billingsley, who missed most of the past two seasons because of injuries, can be ready to join the rotation by late April. “I’ve seen him throw about three or four days ago,” Sandberg said. “He looked very good. He can give us a big boost in the starting pitching.”

Domonic Brown. Brown’s .634 OPS in 144 games last season ranked 139th out of 147 qualified hitters in baseball. His .640 OPS as an outfielder ranked 60th out of 64 outfielders, and his .641 OPS as a left fielder was the lowest of any left fielder since Chuck Knoblauch’s .582 OPS for Kansas City in ’02. “It’s a big year for Domonic Brown, to see if he’s one of the pieces of the puzzle going forward,” Sandberg said.

Reports on Lee’s Elbow Good So Far

Cliff LeeIf the Phillies cannot trade Cole Hamels before Opening Day, they could have two aces to trade before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Cliff Lee missed much of last season with an injured left elbow, but Ruben Amaro Jr. said last night that Lee has thrown three or four times off a mound recently without any issues. Amaro said Lee is expected to be ready to go when Spring Training opens next month.

That is significant because if Lee can stay healthy and pitch effectively, he could become a valuable trade chip come July.

“There’s plenty of teams out there that need pitching, especially when you talk about top of the rotation left-handers,” Amaro said. “They don’t fall off trees. I know there are going to be more than one or two contenders out there.”

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