Philadelphia Phillies’ starter Cliff Lee‘s may have pitched his last game when he made his first and only spring training start this year. He pitched 2.0 innings allowing two hits and no runs, which overall is pretty successful.
However, Lee’s elbow did not find the start to be a success. Lee has a torn common flexor tendon, an injury he’s been dealing with for the last year, an injury he already tried to heal through rehab twice last season.
The 36-year-old left hander was placed on the team’s 60-day disabled list Monday in order to try a third attempt at rehabbing his elbow, instead of surgery. The team admitted in the announcement that surgery has been recommended.
Surgery, however, would likely end Lee’s career. Lee admitted that it’s likely he’ll end up having to opt for surgery but at this point, no real harm can be caused by trying rehab one last time.
“We tried twice and it didn’t work, so it’s fairly likely that it will remain the same, ” Lee said. “As we get closer to the threshold of being able to have the surgery or not to make it for next year, as we get closer to that I’ll have a decision to make and obviously we’ll know a lot more at that point.”
While Lee is not giving up it sounds like he is giving into the fact that this situation will more than likely end with the surgery that will cause him his career.
Lee has had a very successful career. He’s a four time All-Star, winning the Cy Young Award in 2008 with the Cleveland Indians winning a league leading 22 games. He was traded to the Phillies in 2009 and then to the Seattle Mariners in the offseason.
He went to the World Series after being traded from Seattle to the Texas Rangers but the team fell short of a title losing to the St. Louis Cardinals.
By 2011 he was back with Philadelphia where he signed a five-year $120 million guaranteed contract. He’s currently ending the final year of that contract. That year he had another All-Star season in which he pitched six complete game shutouts.
Lee’s contract contains a $27.5 million vesting option for the 2016 season with a $12.5 million buyout. The options vests if he pitches 200 innings in 2015 or 400 between 2014-2015 combined. That is obviously not going to happen.
Lee is being sent home from spring training to rest for the foreseeable future. Losing Lee means that the rebuilding Phillies will be unable to trade him for prospects but the fact that he is putting off surgery means that there is a slight chance he may return to help the team this season.
“The one benefit from our angle is at least he’s giving himself a chance to pitch for us again this year by taking this route,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Clearly had Cliff elected to have surgery, we would have lost him for the year. So this may give him the chance, albeit it’s not the greatest odds I guess, it still gives us the opportunity to have him on the field for us at some point this year.”
While Lee is giving himself the chance to pitch again but even he must now that this “period of rest” is really the end of his career. No one is optimisitic that he’ll pitch again through rehabilitation and rest, and if he undergoes surgery he most likely will not.
Sadly, this stint on the disabled list appears to be the end of, what was a brilliant career, by the talented left-hander Cliff Lee.
Over 13 seasons Lee has gone 143-91, logging 2156.2 innings while posting a 3.52 ERA.