When things began to go very badly for the 2013 Phillies, a team that would finish with the first losing record for the organization since 2002, closer Jonathan Papelbon was asked if he felt his veteran team could turn it around.

"I can't predict the future," Papelbon said after blowing a save against the Nationals in late June of 2013. "I don't have a magic crystal eight-ball to tell you that."

Eighteen months later, Cliff Lee apparently located that "magic crystal ball." He brought a prop - a toy magic eight-ball - to his post workout press conference on Thursday in Clearwater, where Phillies pitchers and catchers held their first official workout of spring training.

"I brought this to answer my hard questions," Lee said.


So, your team president (Pat Gillick) said this team isn't likely to contend in the next 2-3 seasons. And Cole Hamels basically said the same thing yesterday.

So what's your take, Cliff?

"Hold on a second," Lee said, picking up the 8-ball and giving it a shake.

"Most likely," he said, relaying the 8-ball's message.

What do you think about Hamels' comments? You signed here to win.

"Yes, definitely," Lee said, again relying on his new toy.

Yes, definitely as in you want to be traded?"

"Let me see. That's another tough one," Lee said. "I don't know if I want to answer that. [Lifts up magic eight-ball] Very doubtful."

So, where'd you get the eight ball?

"It showed up in my locker," Lee said. "I'm kind of glad it did. It takes a lot of pressure off me."

Ok, great. So, can you answer this one - how are you feeling after being limited to 13 starts last year because of elbow issues?

"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."

Do you feel the need to prove that your back to being the normal Cliff Lee when real games begin in 7 weeks?

"I don't feel like I have to prove anything to anybody," Lee said. "I hold myself to a pretty high standard. I hold myself accountable. I'm proven to me, so I don't really worry about having to prove to anybody else."