Phillies' Lee not close to being ready to return

Posted: June 04, 2014

CLIFF LEE is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list today. But since Lee hasn't thrown a baseball in 2 weeks, he obviously will not be activated today, or anytime soon.

Following a workout yesterday, Lee said he still felt "a little bit" of discomfort in a left arm that was diagnosed with an elbow strain 2 weeks ago.

"It's getting better," said Lee, who last pitched on May 18.

But since he hasn't been cleared to throw, Lee is not on the cusp of a side bullpen session, let alone pitching in a minor league rehab game.

Having been down for 2 weeks already, Lee would first have to play catch, then progress to long toss before throwing off a mound. Lee wouldn't likely get a green light for a minor league rehab game until he's thrown off the mound two or three times.

Even if Lee is still in the infancy stages of returning, he did travel with the Phillies when they left last night for a six-game road trip through Washington and Cincinnati, optimistic that he'd be cleared to throw at some point during the next 6 days.

"I hope so," Lee said.

"There's a chance that could happen on this road trip, so he'll go with us," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's getting strength tests pretty much daily to see how he is."

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said repeatedly there is no timetable for Lee's return to the major league rotation. But since he has not been cleared yet and still has to go through the aforementioned steps to rebuild arm strength, it would seem unlikely Lee is back on a big-league mound before July.

Relievers' workload

When the Phillies summoned Phillippe Aumont and Cesar Jimenez to the big leagues Sunday morning to help a bullpen depleted from back-to-back 14-inning games, they obviously needed fresh arms.

Not surprising, Sandberg said their workload in the minor leagues was a factor. Aumont and Jimenez had both pitched only once in the previous 4 days at Triple A Lehigh Valley entering Sunday.

But, Sandberg said, that did not factor in not promoting rising relief prospect Kenny Giles.

"He wasn't a consideration," Sandberg said of the reliever who has been clocked at 100 mph. "His name wasn't brought up."

Giles, 22, is 2-0 with five saves since being promoted from Double A Reading to Triple A Lehigh Valley on May 9. But after striking out 29 while walking only five in 15 innings over 13 games with Reading, Giles' strikeout totals have dipped and his walks have risen. He has eight strikeouts and seven walks in 12 2/3 innings (10 games) with the IronPigs.

At the time of their respective promotions, Jimenez had a 1.67 ERA with 22 strikeouts and seven walks in 27 innings at Lehigh, while Aumont had a 4.13 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 21 walks in 24 innings.

Phillers

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins was out of the starting lineup for the first time in 4 weeks. Rollins had started 23 straight games. Sandberg has said recently he was looking for a day to rest his regular starters as his team is in the midst of playing 20 games in 20 days (plus 12 extra innings combined in the three previous games). Rollins entered the day 10 hits away from passing Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt for the franchise hit record . . . David Buchanan (1-1, 3.86 ERA) will make his third career start tonight in Washington . . . The next four pitchers the Phillies are matched up against: Washington All-Stars Jordan Zimmermann (3-2, 4.07) and Stephen Strasburg (4-4, 3.15), new Nats righthander Doug Fister (3-1, 3.34) and Cincinnati early Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto (5-4, 1.68).


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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