Pain-free Cliff Lee plays catch: "It’s a step forward"

Mariners left-hander Cliff Lee played catch for five minutes this morning, half of that while on his left knee and the other half standing on his own two feet while throwing to first-base coach Lee Tinsley.

For the first time since he was hurt March 15, Lee said he had no pain in his strained lower right abdomen.

“I’ve been slowly been getting better but it’s a strange injury,” said Lee, who has suffered ab problems two other times in his career. “You really don’t know where you’re going to be until you throw. I can do a lot of stuff. I do probably 15 different exercises in the water, rotational stuff, and I feel absolutely nothing. That was the case before I threw last time and, for whatever reason, throwing was the only thing I felt it with.

“It’s a you-don’t-know-until-you-try-it type deal and I’m pleased with how I felt today. It’s a step forward and we’re heading in the right direction.”

Lee says he has no personal timetable on when he will pitch again, only that it’s frustrating to be headed to the disabled list.

“The hardest thing is that my arm feels good, my legs feel good and I feel like I can let the ball go,” he said. “I almost have to hold myself back to make sure nothing happens. It’s a strange thing. It’s one of those deals where if you do too much you go backwards. The season’s about to start and mentally I want to push and get better but I’ve got to make sure I play it safe.”

Lee actually spoke with reporters longer than he threw — seven minutes — and began the session with a statement: “You get seven questions.”

Obviously a little poke at Erik Bedard’s spring training interview two years ago when he told reporters, “You get four questions.” When one writer asked, “Why only four?” Bedard followed with, “That’s one.”

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