Phillies LHP Lee fears career-ending surgery

Philadelphia Phillies starter Cliff Lee is awaiting a second opinion on his left elbow that the 36-year-old fears could be career-ending.

Lee underwent an MRI on Friday.

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The MRI showed mild inflammation but did not indicate any ligament damage. The Phillies have scratched Lee from his next scheduled spring start Tuesday and sent the MRI results to renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion.

"It'd be six-to-eight months out," Lee said Monday. "So, basically, if I have the surgery this season will be done, possibly my career, I guess. I don't know. We'll have to see."

Lee, who started only 13 games last season due to an elbow strain, will likely resume throwing Monday, and the team said he "will progress his throwing program as tolerated." He is in the final guaranteed year of a $120 million contract. The 2016 team option at $27.5 million becomes guaranteed should Lee pitch 200 innings this season.

"With all the stuff I did in the offseason to prevent something like this from happening ... It's frustrating," Lee said Monday. "There's still a possibility it's scar tissue and it's normal, but there's also the possibility it's coming back and that's very frustrating."

The Phillies remain cautious as the former Cy Young Award winner missed the final two months of last season with elbow issues.

"Any time it's the elbow, you have to be concerned," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We have to be concerned because it's the area he felt something before. We don't think it's acute, but we have to be cautious."

Lee, 36, went 4-5 with a 3.65 ERA last year in 81 1/3 innings after pitching at least 200 innings in eight of the previous nine seasons. He made his spring training debut last Thursday, allowing two hits in two innings. Lee said he felt "normal" after throwing 22 pitches.


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