Sep 07, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee (33) during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Cliff Lee returns to throwing today, 'still not 100 percent'

While just about any trade value he might have has is dead at this point, Phillies’ ace Cliff Lee threw a baseball for the first time today, since being placed on the disabled list May 20th with an elbow flexor strain.

Lee was playing more of a game of catch than getting back into his throwing program, but admitted to CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury that his injury-recovery is  progressing.

“It’s not 100 percent,” he said. “But it’s better.”

Seeing Lee back on a mound again might make Phillies’ games less painful, but ESPN’s Jayson Stark didn’t feel to optimistic about Lee’s trade-value when he assessed it Monday.

Stark feels Lee’s contract might have prevented him from being moved anyway, but given the fact that Lee is guaranteed more than $50 million over the next two and a half years, and hasn’t even started throwing again, his trade-value is dead for the time being. I will continue to say that Lee could be moved in August, if he gets healthy, as part of a waiver-trade.

Remember, just because Lee threw doesn’t really mean he is anywhere near a return. Lee could throw again in a few days, and feel pain, which would set all of this back. The hope for Lee has to be that he can gradually progress and start throwing for real within the next week or two, make a minor league rehab appearance, and be back around the All-Star break. And that’s the plan for Lee without any setbacks involved.

When I looked back at what I wrote when Lee was originally placed on the disabled-list, it’s almost comical to me to think how upbeat I was feeling about the Phillies.

So Lee doesn’t need Tommy John surgery, but him missing a couple weeks minimum doesn’t help the Phillies’ playoff hopes. It also damages any potential trade value that he has later in the season, should the Phillies fall out of the playoff race prior to the July 31st trade deadline.

Did I think just under a month that the Phillies were a serious playoff-contender? No, but if I even suggested that the Phillies had playoff hopes now, I’d get laughed at. Late-May and early-June weren’t friendly to team that has fallen from having an outside shot to make the playoffs to being tied for the worst record in the National League.

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Tags: Cliff Lee Philadelphia Phillies

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