Cliff Lee's first rehabilitation start since going on the disabled list with a strained elbow was cut short.
The good news for the Phillies is that the outing wasn't limited due to a physical issue. Lee pitched well in his two innings for Class A Clearwater against Brevard County, allowing one hit and no runs and striking out the last two batters he faced.
The bad news is that the 24-pitch outing was about one-third of the work both Lee and the Phillies hoped he would get, as heavy downpours rolled into town as the Threshers batted in the top of the third. Lee threw more pitches on the side to extend his workout, but it might be difficult for the Phillies to send the veteran left-hander onto a big-league mound without one more rehab start that allows him to face batters deep into his pitch count.
That would mean the earliest Lee could return to the hill for the Phillies would be the first game after the All-Star break, July 18 against the Braves in Atlanta. That would mean at most three starts for Lee before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. While three strong starts could alleviate some worries about the health of his arm for teams interested in acquiring him in a deal from the Phillies, Lee still has at least $37.5 million guaranteed to him for next season, and it could be $52.5 million through 2016 if he were to accrue 200 innings in 2015 -- a massive amount of money for a pitcher who has missed six weeks due to an elbow issue. Lee was 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts before going on the D.L. May 19.