Phillies' Lee to start for Clearwater on Sunday

Posted: July 03, 2014

MIAMI - Cliff Lee is tentatively on tap to pitch in his first game in more than 6 weeks on Sunday. After throwing in a simulated game for the second time in 5 days, Lee will start for Class A Clearwater, barring a setback.

The lefthander could return to the Phillies' rotation before the All-Star break. If his return doesn't come until after the break, Lee will likely make three starts before the July 31 trade deadline.

Even though he turns 36 in August and was diagnosed with a left elbow strain less than 2 months ago, Lee could attract interest among contending teams if he looks like the pitcher who had a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts this season when he does make his return.

"I'm just excited to be getting close [to getting back]," Lee said Tuesday afternoon at Marlins Park. "Hopefully, I can help this team win. That's really it. Trades and stuff happen; that's completely out of my control. There's no sense even thinking about it."

Lee's priority might be in getting himself ready to rejoin the Phillies, but he's incorrect in saying he has no control over his future. Lee has a partial no-trade clause in his contract; he can block trades to 21 teams each year.

Lee signed a 5-year, $120 million deal in December 2010 because he thought the Phillies gave him the best opportunity to reach and win a World Series. If that remains his big-picture priority, Lee's chances are better elsewhere.

The Phillies are 11 games under .500, in last place in the National League East, and 16-25 since Lee was placed on the DL. Does Lee think the Phillies still a have run in them in the season's final 3 months?

"I hope so," Lee said. "I hope so. I don't know how else to look at it. I hope we win. I expect to win. That's it."

On July 1, Lee was trying to stay optimistic. He's getting closer to making his first major league start since mid-May, and he's focused on that, and not the date that marks the final day of the month.

"I'll just cross that bridge when we get there," Lee said of the trade deadline. "Right now, I just want to get back and pitch and try to win."

Even if July 31 passes with Lee still on the roster, he could be on the move next month. Players who pass through waivers can be dealt before Aug. 31.

Lee is owed approximately $12.5 million more this season, and $25 million in 2015, and has an option in his contract that could pay him $27.5 million in 2016. The 2016 option, which includes a $12.5 million buyout, would automatically vest if Lee is not on the DL at the end of the 2015 season with a left arm injury and pitches at least 200 innings in 2015 or a total of 400 innings in 2014-15.

Carlos' concussion

Carlos Ruiz will not rejoin the Phillies when he's eligible to be activated from the 7-day DL on Friday.

Ruiz experienced concussion symptoms after being hit in the ear by a pitch during Thursday's 14-inning game at Citizens Bank Park. But his condition has not improved.

"When he takes a test to see where he's at, he's failing those tests," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He still gets the dizziness and the eye sensation to brightness."

"Carlos' [status] is maybe a little more serious than we originally thought, unfortunately," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He's had concussion issues in the past, so we have to be careful with him."

Ruiz is hitting .257 with two home runs and a .363 OBP in 66 games this season. Cameron Rupp made his third start in the last five games last night.

Sizing up Sizemore

Former three-time All-Star Grady Sizemore led off and started in leftfield for Triple A Lehigh Valley last night. It was Sizemore's fourth start since signing a minor league deal with the Phillies last week.

Sizemore, who turns 32 a month from today, was 4-for-13 (.308) with a strikeout and a walk in his first three games with Lehigh Valley. He started two games in centerfield.

Sizemore reportedly has an opt-out clause he can exercise in his contract if he is not promoted to the big leagues by the All-Star break.

"I think he's getting in game shape again," Amaro said of Sizemore, who was released by the Boston Red Sox 2 weeks ago. "He did have 10 days off. He's swinging the bat OK and moving around well defensively. He just has to play some games."

Phillers

Former first-round pick Jesse Biddle, placed on the temporary inactive list Friday for a "mental break," is working out in Clearwater, according to Ruben Amaro Jr. He said the Phillies planned to set up a meeting between Biddle and former Phillie and two-time Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay, who was famously demoted to Class A as a young major leaguer before mastering the mental aspect of the game . . . Darin Ruf (left wrist) began playing in games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies on Monday. He could return to the Phillies after the All-Star break . . . Freddy Galvis (left clavicle) is also in Clearwater, taking part in infield work. Amaro thinks Galvis will be able to play in games within the next 2 weeks.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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