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Did Cliff Lee's 'injury' hurt his off-season workouts? And will it affect his 2011 season?

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

Cliff Lee says he’s ok.
 
Ruben Amaro says “He is absolutely 100 percent perfect.” 
 
Amaro of course, is referring to Lee’s side muscle strain that was reported the other day.

There should however, be some cause for concern. Not as much Lee’s injury, but how it may have affected his regular off-season workouts. We all know how Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez struggled mightily for the first part of 2010 from his sports hernia surgery in November 2009 because he couldn’t fully participate in his usual off-season workout program. This is not to be underestimated.

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Lee is no stranger to injuries over the last several years. He had foot surgery last February, and he suffered a strained abdomen last spring training with the Mariners, but eventually returned to finish with an overall 12-9 record.

Most of us reading this are from Philadelphia- which means we are always waiting for the proverbial 'shoe to drop.'  As we witnessed last year, injuries are simply part of the game, and the Phillies starting five are no exception.

While Lee says the “possible injury” is a non-issue, the Phillies obviously are being overly cautious with him. After all, the team did give him $120 million to come back here a few months ago. Let’s take everyone’s word for it right now until there’s a reason to think otherwise.

Final Thought:

Let’s not kid ourselves everyone:  If the Phillies are even thinking about going back to the World Series and winning it this year, they will need Lee to be 100%. To be fair, the Phils DID win 97 games last year with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt for half a season along with an inconsistent offense. However, as everybody knows, the San Francisco Giants beat our “Fantastic Four” at one point during the playoffs en route to a World Series title.

The Phillies can’t just be good in 2011, they have to be great, and Cliff Lee is a monumental part of that.

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin.'

Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's.

Contact Joe at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: Associated Press