In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro announced that Cliff Lee will continue his regular throwing program. This is moderately good news for the Phillies and Lee. However, it will come with a price.
When the announcement came that Cliff Lee had been shut down a second time, as well as his imminent appointment with James “Dr. Death” Andrews, it appeared that Lee was looking at the same fate as Roy Halladay: having a phenomenal career ended by injury.
The Phillies are not optimistic about Lee’s status for the 2015 season. In the upcoming week, Lee will attempt to throw a bullpen session, throw long toss, and eventually make another start. If he is able to venture through his regular progression without discomfort, the Phillies will allow Lee to continue pitching.
Lee has a tear in his common flexor tendon, the sane injury that limited him to only 13 starts in 2014. The recovery time following surgery for this issue is 6-8 months. Surgery would be the next step for Lee if there is any discomfort.
Lee played catch on Tuesday and “felt OK,” according to Amaro. He “didn’t really feel anything different, a very, very mild sensation he’s got in there,” Amaro said. “He’s just going to continue to throw and if it gets worse and worse then he might have to shut it down and we’ll figure out where we go from there.”
If there is any silver lining in this situation for Cliff Lee and the Phillies, it is that the surgery to repair Lee’s arm would not be Tommy John surgery.
The surgery would likely be season ending, barring a miracle. But, it may not be career ending as was first reported. The question then will be if the Phillies want to continue paying Lee the money that he is owed, although he is on his final guaranteed year of his current, and possibly final, contact. Or if Lee wants to come back and rehab at age 37.
The Phillies’ outlook on 2015 was not good coming into the season, and Lee’s injury only deepens their concern. If Lee does eventually need surgery, and it is the end of his incredible career, it is imperative the Phillies get any deal for Cole Hamels right.