Philadelphia Phillies general manager Rubén Amaro Jr. joined Sports Illustrated on Tuesday afternoon and discussed the future of pitcher Cliff Lee, who was recently diagnosed with a tear in the common flexor tendon in his left elbow.
Though ending Lee's season has been discussed, Amaro Jr. said that the team was still evaluating the pitcher's condition and would wait to see what, if any, effect the recovery program would have.
"[It's] a matter of him going through the throwing program he's in now and seeing what he can tolerate and what he can work through," said Amaro Jr.
"If it gets to the point where the discomfort is too great for him to perform we'll have to take a different route and figure out where we'll go from there."
Lee was found to have the injury after experiencing discomfort while throwing during spring training. The 36-year-old was limited to 13 games last season because of a strained flexor tendon in his elbow. He was 4-5 with 72 strikeouts in 81.1 innings, earning a 3.65 ERA.
While the team has reportedly said it is not optimistic about his recovery, Amaro Jr. stressed that the Phillies would wait for the recovery program before making any decisions.
"[Lee is] hypersensitive to it and hyper aware of it, obviously ... it's something that we want to stay on top of. But, time will tell. We’ll see how it goes with this throwing program," said Amaro Jr.
"Hopefully we can progress him to get back on the mound and throw off the mound and if he can do it without discomfort then we’ll continue to progress him and if he can't then we’ll have to do something different with him."
On Tuesday, it was reported that Lee would try to recover from the injury without surgery, a procedure that would likely require a rehabilitation period of six to eight months. Lee said on Monday that surgery could mean not only the end of his season, but the end of his career as well.
Lee has earned a 3.52 ERA with a 143-91 record and 1,824 strikeouts in a 13-year career. Philadelphia finished last season 73-89 and in last place in the NL East.
- Christopher Woody