By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
February 19 2015, 9:30 PM EDT.
Cliff Lee walked out to a makeshift conference room at Bright House Field on Thursday and plopped a Magic 8 ball on the table.
"I brought this to answer my hard questions," Lee said with a smile, noting a teammate put the toy in his locker during the first pitcher and catcher workouts of spring training.
A 13-year veteran, Lee knew he was going to be asked about his health and the possibility of being dealt at some point this season.
His take on the rebuilding process?
"Hold on a second," Lee said as he shook the Magic 8 ball for an answer. "Most likely."
The antics continued for another several minutes with Lee using the prop to playfully dodge questions.
"Let me see," Lee said when asked if he wanted to be traded. "That's another tough one. … I don't know if I want to answer that. … [The Magic 8 ball says] very doubtful."
Lee, 36, made just 13 starts last season due to a flexor pronator strain in his throwing elbow. He avoided surgery and began throwing off a mound in early January.
“I feel good," Lee said. "It feels like a normal spring so far. I started throwing a lot earlier this year so I probably had 15 bullpens before today. I feel like I’m ahead of where I’d normally be this time of year, but it’s different for me since I missed the last two months of the season. ... I feel normal. I don’t know if that’s good or what. But that’s what I feel like."
Lee, now in the final year of a five-year deal, played a vital role in the organization's recent run of success, but he recognizes the need for change and has no problem admitting he's open to a move if the club sees a fit elsewhere.
"Nobody likes losing, no doubt, especially on a team that has the payroll and the players and the reputation that we've had," Lee said. "Honestly it was embarrassing, and I take responsibly for that as well as all of the other guys should. It was unacceptable, and we're suffering through the consequences now, with getting rid of these older veterans guys that were so good for so long.
"If you could tell me right now you have an opportunity to play on a World Series championship team, absolutely, I want to do that," Lee said. "I do. I think every player should want to do that. I'm a Phillie right now and that's where I'm going to try and do that. That's where I'm at so I want the Phillies to win a World Series this year."
Realistically, Lee knows he has a better shot to win elsewhere, but he's going to need to demonstrate his elbow is healthy before other clubs show interest. He's owed $25 million this year and has a vesting option in place for 2016 if he tosses 200 innings this season.
"I honestly don't want to keep rehashing this over and over," Lee said. "That's the way it's going to be all the time ... I don't want to discuss, are you going to get traded next week? And we're still in spring training. Yeah, when it gets close to the trade deadline and we're 15 games out of it, yeah we can talk about that. Hopefully that's not the case."
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