By Harry Allison

Spring training is less than a month away for catchers and pitchers, and the Phillies will soon find out if one of their top pitchers can be counted on for the 2015 season.

Cliff Lee, who hasn’t thrown a pitch in anger since last July 31, managed to avoid surgery after being limited to just 13 starts last season due to a flexor pronator strain, but he’s still a big wild card coming into 2015. The Phillies hope to get a sense on his progress soon.

According to Jake Kaplan of the Inquirer, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. said recently that Lee is expected to throw off a mound in the next week to week and a half.

The veteran southpaw has been long-tossing without pain, but the Phillies aren’t sure what to expect from him yet. Amaro could probably best be described as cautious:

“That will be a good test for him, and we’ll find out more about how he’s progressing,” Amaro said before noting the lefthander’s health is “still a question mark, and until he’s pitching in spring training and pitching like we hope Cliff Lee will pitch, then we’ll know that he’s healthy and ready to go.”

Lee, 36, is owed $25 million this season and his contract includes a $27.5 million club option with a $12.5 million buyout for 2016. With the Phillies in rebuild mode, he will likely become a trade candidate if he can prove his health and effectiveness.

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