Phillies Notes: Cliff Lee to miss scheduled start on Saturday

Phillies starter Cliff Lee will miss his scheduled start on Saturday against the Tigers due to a stiff neck. Kathy Willens / Ap
Phillies starter Cliff Lee will miss his scheduled start on Saturday against the Tigers due to a stiff neck. Kathy Willens / Ap (AP)
Posted: July 28, 2013

DETROIT - The true intentions of any abrupt scratch, like the "stiff neck" that will sideline Cliff Lee from his scheduled start Saturday, are questioned at this time of year. The trade deadline is nearing. Lee is the finest pitching commodity available - that is, if he is on the trade block.

Regardless, the lefthander will not be pitching for the Phillies on Saturday. Raul Valdes will shift from the bullpen to make the emergency start. The decision was announced Friday by a team official at 7:37 p.m.

Manager Charlie Manuel said Lee has felt the stiffness for three days. Lee said he has not seen a doctor and will not see one until the team returns to Philadelphia. He is currently receiving treatment for the injury, which he blamed on a St. Louis bed.

"Not so good," he said of the injury.

His absence comes as ESPN.com reported a late push by numerous teams to acquire Lee. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has insisted for weeks that he would not trade Lee. He said his team's best shot at contention in 2014 was with Lee and Cole Hamels atop the rotation.

Amaro was not available for comment during Friday's game.

Lee has a 6.05 ERA in his last three starts with eight home runs allowed. Before that, his ERA was 2.59, one of the best in the National League.

Any Lee trade would be complicated because the Phillies would prefer to not assume any of the remaining $70 million on his contract. They would demand a bounty of top prospects in addition to the salary relief. The odds of another team agreeing to both of those stipulations is unlikely.

In addition, Lee has a no-trade clause that allows him to block a deal to 21 teams. A source with knowledge of Lee's thinking said the pitcher could be willing to waive it for a trade to a contending team.

Seeking relief

The man the Phillies expected to provide stability to their bullpen will undergo major shoulder surgery Thursday in Los Angeles. Mike Adams may not throw another pitch for quite some time; he will not be ready for opening day in 2014. That leaves the Phillies in a familiar quandary.

While the Phillies maintain a flicker of hope for contending in 2013, Amaro's task is to improve their chances in 2014.

A report by ESPN.com said the Phillies inquired about San Diego righthander Luke Gregerson, a 29-year-old workhorse with a career 2.93 ERA. He is making $3.2 million in 2013 and is eligible for one more year of arbitration in 2014 before reaching free agency. That makes him a commodity on this barren market. The Phillies are far from the only team with interest.

They spent $12 million on Adams, who is 34 with a long history of shoulder problems. He has two tears in his right labrum and one in his rotator cuff. That is the type of surgery that could sideline him well into 2014. He was paid $5 million to throw 25 innings in 2013.

Extra bases

Catcher Humberto Quintero cleared waivers and elected free agency rather than an assignment to triple-A Lehigh Valley.


Contact Matt Gelb

at mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow @magelb on Twitter.

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