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Cliff Lee's career could end if he needs elbow surgery

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Cliff Lee said on Monday that if he opts to have surgery on his left elbow, he would likely miss the rest of the season and possibly more.

"It would be 6-8 months out," Lee said. "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."

The Phillies lefthander said he "felt a little something" in his elbow on Friday, a day after his spring training debut. It was in the same place where Lee felt the pain last season. It was not "majorly painful," Lee said. He said he immediately told the team's trainers and staff. It had been months since he felt the pain, Lee said.

"And it was really mild, but, it's just concerning because I knew what it turned into last year, and I just wanted to be open. I wasn't trying to hide anything," Lee said. "I truly felt nothing for months and then all of a sudden there it is after the first time I pitch in a game. I was open and honest with our trainers and hoped to nip it in the bud as quick as we can and hope that it's just a little twinge or something from really cranking it up the first time in a while."

Lee's elbow limited him to just 13 starts last season. Three doctors told him that he would have an "upper-90 percent chance" to heal by rest, instead of surgery.

“Obviously you're going to take your chances on rest and rehab and that's what we did,” Lee said. “So potentially I'm the three percent that needs surgery and potentially it's scar tissue breaking up and it's normal. But I think it's early to know which one it is.”