Phillies' rehabbing Lee encouraged by workout yesterday

Posted: June 29, 2014

YESTERDAY afternoon, hours before Kyle Kendrick's 89-mph sinker kick-started a four-game series between the Phillies and Braves, Cliff Lee pitched to Tony Gwynn Jr., Cesar Hernandez and Ronny Cedeno. Simulating two innings of play, the Phillies' lefthander threw 20 pitches - both fastballs and breaking balls - took a seat and then tossed 20 more.

Afterward, Lee offered a positive review of the session, signifying more progress in his recovery from the elbow strain in his pitching arm that landed him on the disabled list on May 20. This was his first time facing live hitters. He previously tossed three recent bullpen sessions.

"You don't really know until you go multiple innings," he said. "Two innings, it's hard to tell. But I'm happy with how I felt, and I'm headed in the right direction."

Ryne Sandberg was also pleased with Lee's simulated innings. The Phillies' skipper made it sound as if Lee would throw another such session within the next few days. Then perhaps a rehab start. Sandberg said the notion of Lee pitching at least one rehab game has been discussed, and it's "kind of the consensus to have a rehab of some sort."

"Everything was down in the zone," Sandberg said. "His first inning was better than his second, but all was quality."

Lee said he worked mostly on locating his fastball, and he could have kept throwing after the 40 pitches. Stamina is not an issue.

Asked about the possibility of soon making a rehab start, the Phils' Opening Day starter said he hasn't looked that far ahead.

"I wish I could pitch today, but obviously that's not going to happen," he said. "I've got to stick with the plan and continue to progress and add more volume, and hopefully I continue to rebound and head in the right direction."

Hollands' 'steady' arm

For all the talk about Ken Giles' first seven outings and the improvements of Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus, it might be easy to overlook Mario Hollands.

But the 25-year-old lefthanded reliever is also in the best stretch of his young major league career, and entered last night's game riding a scoreless streak of 16 2/3 innings dating to May 9. It's the second-longest such streak in the National League and the third-longest in the majors.

"Mario's just been steady," Sandberg said. "His deception, his funkiness is different. His movement on his baseball is good. [There's] nothing straight that he throws. His composure, the way he's handled himself has been very good. He's been a good situational guy, and he's really come along and been very consistent on throwing strikes out of the bullpen and occasionally getting ground balls when needed."

Another impressive statistic on Hollands: His mark of 18 scoreless appearances is a franchise record among rookie relievers. Dick Farrell, in 1957, and B.J. Rosenberg, last season, held the previous record at 14 scoreless appearances.

Hollands, whose ERA was down to 2.20 entering last night, has surrendered only one earned run in 20 innings at Citizens Bank Park.

Sandberg said even on an off day, Hollands' stuff and the "herky jerkiness" of his delivery make him affective. In spring training, the manager said, Hollands' deception caused umpires to lose some of his pitches.

"He's just real cool out there. He seems to be just under control," Sandberg said. "He makes adjustments as he needs to, so he's showed a lot of maturity, and [it's] just him being comfortable in the big leagues right now. He's been very good."

Phillers

Domonic Brown was not in the starting lineup last night for the third time in four games. The 2013 All-Star was hitting .218 on the season and has made several costly miscues recently in leftfield. John Mayberry Jr. again started in his place . . .

Former three-time All-Star Grady Sizemore, signed Tuesday by the Phillies to a minor league contract, made his organizational debut last night, leading off and playing centerfield for Triple A Lehigh Valley. Righthander Jason Marquis, attempting a comeback from Tommy John surgery, started last night for the IronPigs, his second for the organization since signing June 4 . . .

The College Baseball Foundation yesterday named Aaron Nola, the Phillies' recent seventh overall draft pick, its National Pitcher of the Year.


On Twitter: @jakemkaplan

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