Phillies Notebook: Phils' Cliff hanger

ASSOCIATED PRESS Cliff Lee leaves field Thursday after reinjuring his left elbow: 'Obviously, I'm worried about it.'
ASSOCIATED PRESS Cliff Lee leaves field Thursday after reinjuring his left elbow: 'Obviously, I'm worried about it.'
Posted: August 04, 2014

WASHINGTON - Cliff Lee was walking out of the Phillies' clubhouse yesterday afternoon when Jamie Moyer stopped him. The former teammates talked for more than a few minutes, with head trainer Scott Sheridan joining in on the conversation, too.

Four years ago, Moyer left a Phillies game in St. Louis after throwing 18 pitches. Moyer was placed on the disabled list with a left elbow strain; he wondered aloud if he would ever pitch again.

Moyer, then 47, eventually underwent Tommy John surgery. He never pitched for the Phillies again and would appear in just 10 more major league games.

Lee, who turns 36 this month, is obviously a lot younger than Moyer was then. But last September, he talked about the likelihood of retiring when his current contract expires. If he has to undergo surgery like Moyer, that would be after next season.

Lee will know more about the severity of his current left arm injury when he's checked out today by Dr. Steve Cohen, one of the Phillies' physicians. An MRI and other testing is likely to follow when the team returns home after the weekend.

"Obviously, I'm worried about it," Lee said Thursday night, shortly before he was placed on the DL. "It came back, so that's not good. I don't think it's a larger problem. I think it's just the original thing . . . I think it was almost gone and came back."

Lee was placed on the DL for the first time on May 20 with a left elbow strain. It's obviously not an encouraging sign that the same ailment resurfaced after the Phillies attempted to treat his arm with rest.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. returned to Philadelphia yesterday and was not available in Washington. In an appearance on Comcast SportsNet's "Philly Sports Talk," Amaro said there were no initial signs of ligament damage, but that Lee might get checked out by Dr. James Andrews in the near future.

The Phillies still owe Lee a minimum of $37.5 million on the 5-year, $120 million contract he signed in December 2010.

Lee is under contract for $25 million next year. He has a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016 if he is able to pitch at least 200 innings next year or a combination of 400 innings in 2014-15.

The Phillies also hold a $12.5 million buyout for the 2016 season.

Gonzalez on the go

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was promoted to Triple A Lehigh Valley yesterday, his last stop before likely joining the Phillies at some point in the season's final 2 months.

Gonzalez was 0-2 with a 3.14 ERA in 11 games at Double A Reading, striking out 24 while walking seven in 14 1/3 innings. He also converted five saves.

"He was ready for that move," manager Ryne Sandberg said of the pitcher's promotion. "He's been throwing between 93-97 [mph]."

Gonzalez, who defected from Cuba, signed a 3-year, $12 million contract with the Phillies a year ago this month. But after not pitching competitively for almost 2 years, Gonzalez battled rust and an ailing shoulder last fall and into spring training, too, where he appeared in just two Grapefruit League games.

Gonzalez returned to the mound in mid-May at Class A Clearwater, but struggled with command. After three games, Gonzalez has moved to the bullpen and thrived.

Gonzalez entered Lehigh Valley with a 2.66 ERA in 16 relief appearances in Clearwater and Reading, racking up 32 strikeouts with seven walks in 20 1/3 innings while holding opponents to a .213 batting average.

"The biggest thing they talk about is his velocity," Sandberg said.

Sandberg said the next step will be for Gonzalez to show he can be used for multiple-inning stints. Gonzalez has pitched just one inning in 11 of his 16 relief appearances this year.

But the former International Man of Mystery appears to be one step closer to the big leagues, where he would join a bullpen already brimming with young talent in Jake Diekman and Ken Giles.


David Buchanan is a heavy favorite to jump into Cliff Lee's spot in the rotation on Wednesday against the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park. Buchanan allowed one run in seven innings of a 5-2 win at Triple A Lehigh Valley on Thursday. Buchanan went 5-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 10 starts with the Phillies while pitching in place of Lee earlier this season . . . Since making his major league debut in June, Ken Giles has a 0.77 WHIP (four walks, 12 hits in 20 2/3 innings). Among NL pitchers with at least 20 innings in that span, only three have lower WHIPs: Jonathan Papelbon (0.65), Clayton Kershaw (0.68) and Jake Arrieta (0.74) . . . The Phillies are 4-49 when trailing after the sixth inning this season.

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21


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