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Amaro "not terribly optimistic" Lee could avoid surgery

The Phillies updated Cliff Lee's status on Tuesday afternoon. Ruben Amaro Jr. said the second opinion from Dr. James Andrews fell in line with team's diagnosis. Lee has a tear of common flexor tendon. It could require surgery.

Ruben Amaro Jr. briefly let head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan provide the update on Cliff Lee, since Sheridan is the medical expert among the two Phillies men.

But eventually Amaro stood back in the firing line of reporters in the media room at Bright House Field and gave the grimmest of perspectives on Lee's current health status.

"We're not terribly optimistic, but there is still the possibility he can come back and throw and throw with a minimal amount of discomfort," Amaro said. "But, we've tried to do this, rehab him non-surgically twice now, and the next order of progression I guess would be to have a surgery if it doesn't pan out, or at least that would, I think, be the suggestion from the doctors. Again, we're not to that point yet because we have to see how he does with his throwing progression here moving forward."

The diagnosis from Dr. James Andrews fell in line with what the Phillies medical staff saw: Lee has a tear of his left common flexor tendon.

Lee first went on the DL last May, attempted a comeback in July, but was back on the DL for the season's final two months. He made just 13 starts last year.

Lee attempted the route of rest and rehab last year - at the reccommendation of all doctors consulted - but the pain returned Friday, a day after his first spring start.

Is surgery inevitable?

"We're not to that point yet because we have to see how he does with his throwing progression here moving forward," Amaro said.

So the Phillies plan on waiting to see how Lee responds in the coming weeks in Clearwater?

"It may not even take a couple of weeks," Amaro said. "It may take a couple of days. If he feels discomfort, then he might have to shut it down. He threw today and felt OK. Really didn't feel anything different. It's a very, very mild sensation he's got in there. But, he's just going to continue to throw, and if it gets worse and worse, then he might have to shut it down and we'll figure out where to go from there."

A surgical procedure would sidelined Lee for 6-8 months. So it would obviously end his 2015 season.

But it could also both his tenure with the Phillies and his career, too. Lee has said in the past that he planned on retring when his current contract expires.

Lee, who turns 37 in August, is in the final year of a 5-year, $120 million contract. The deal calls for him to make $25 million this season, and includes a $12.5 million buyout for the 2016 season.

At the end of the 2013 season, Lee talked about retiring when his current contract expires. So would surgery even be worth going through at this point in his career?

"I've got to factor all those things in," Lee said. "I've got a family at home and I've been away from them for a long time, so that is part of the equation. If I were to have the surgery am I going to go through all that to try to pitch again, or am I going to shut it down? That's a decision that I'll have to make once that time comes, if that times comes."