Wednesday July 9th, 2014

Cliff Lee has anxiously been awaiting his chance to return to the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation since landing on the disabled list in mid-May, but it seems he will need to wait until after the All Star break, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.

Lee's latest rehab outing was cut short due to rain. It appears as though he'll make his return to the team on July 19.

Lee was expected to throw 70 pitches for the organization's Class-A Clearwater affiliate this past Sunday. Rain limited him to just 24 over two innings of work, though the club's GM Ruben Amaro told reporters that they "liked what we saw of his two innings." Amaro noted that Lee's fastball reportedly sat between 89 and 91 MPH. The Phillies would like to see Lee make two more rehab starts before rejoining the team. 

Before being placed on the DL, Lee was 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.279 WHIP in 68.0 IP over 10 starts. He'd thrown well, but was hurt early in the year by a lack of offensive support. The Phillies scored just 8 runs total in Lee's two no-decisions and four losses. 

Lee has been on the sidelines since complaining of elbow soreness after throwing 116 pitches in a May 18 start against the Cincinnati Reds, with what was initially believed to just be a strained muscle in his elbow. The Phillies initially expected him to miss 4-6 weeks but he's already surpassed that window. In the interim, the Phillies have fallen out of the NL East race and appear to be sellers at the upcoming trade deadline with numerous veteran pieces that could be moved. 

Provided he can prove he's healthy, Lee is expected to draw some attention on the trade market. His contract could prove to be an obstacle, however. Lee is earning $25 million this season and is under contract for the same amount next year. His deal also includes a vesting option for 2016. The Phillies will likely have to eat a significant portion of that remaining balance in order to obtain a better return, but with quality pitching in such high demand there is bound to be interest if the left-hander is made available.

- Aaron Somers

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