If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. If it doesn't work that time, try a third time.
The Phillies and Cliff Lee held a press conference on Monday from Clearwater and announced the ailing left-hander will be placed on the 60-day disabled list with a left forearm strain. It is the same strain that put Lee on the DL twice last season, causing him discomfort in his arm this spring.
Ahead of the press conference, the team released this statement.
...Cliff has now attempted to twice rehabilitate this injury without having surgery. While surgery has now been recommended, it would effectively put an end to his 2015 season as the rehabilitation from the surgery would run through the end of the season.
As a result, the Phillies and Cliff have mutually decided to try once again to rehabilitate the injury non-operatively, with the hope that Cliff might be able to return to pitch during the 2015 season. Cliff will immediately be shut down from throwing. He will be sent home to rest and will be set up with a rehabilitation program to maintain his overall conditioning. He will be brought to Philadelphia periodically to be evaluated to determine a time at which he might be able to begin a throwing program again.
If it didn't work the first time, and it didn't work the second time, it's almost certainly not going to work a third time. And I'm not even a doctor.
But the long and short of it is this... Cliff Lee is done. He is owed $25 million this season and a $12.5 million buyout for next year. By electing not to retire, Lee will likely be paid $37.5 million never to throw another pitch for the Phillies again.
He initially joined the team mid-season in 2009 and helped the Phils win the NL East for a third straight season and won two games in the World Series against the Yankees. He was then traded after the season to Seattle for a collection of non-prospects, then signed a five-year, $120 million contract with the Phillies ahead of the 2011 season and was part of a Super Rotation that became the backbone of a 102-win team.
And while the team fell apart around him in subsequent years, Lee was outstanding in his first three seasons with the Phils, going 37-25 with a 2.80 ERA, 667 strikeouts and 102 walks in 666.1 innings.
And in his four years with the team, Lee put up 21.2 bWAR, which certainly makes his contract worth it, even if this final season becomes a great big zero.
Of course, in a press conference Monday afternoon, Lee said he still hopes to pitch in 2016.
Lee said surgery remains an option if this rehab doesn't work. Says he'd still have time to have surgery, return in 2016.— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) March 16, 2015
But it's hard to imagine that team is going to be the Phillies, especially with a price tag of $27.5 million next year.
To remember better times, perhaps Lee's greatest moment, from Game 1 of the 2009 World Series.
If this is the end, thanks for the memories, Cliff.