MINNEAPOLIS -- Cliff Lee was back with the Rangers on Friday after a two-day visit to Dr. Keith Meister to have his lower back examined. Lee will throw a bullpen session on Saturday, and that will give the Rangers a good indication if he will be able to make his start against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Lee, who has a strained muscle on the right side of his lower back, was given an injection by Meister for the pain and inflammation. "I don't know what the plan is. ... I anticipate being able to do what they tell me to do," Lee said.
Lee admitted that the back has been bothering him for a couple of weeks and that it's one reason why he hasn't been pitching that well. He also admitted that he should have said something to the Rangers sooner. "Looking back, I should have said something earlier," he said, "but I want to go out and compete and help the team. In hindsight, it's easy to say I should have done this or done that. I wasn't helping the team giving up five, six, seven runs a game. "I can pitch with it, but I want to go out and be me: locate my pitches and be more consistent. I haven't been, and this is a big reason why. It affects my ability to get the ball down in the zone." Lee is 0-3 with an 8.28 ERA in his last five starts, and opponents are hitting .333 off him. The Rangers are 3-8 in his last 11 starts. "I don't want to say this is the reason why I'm pitching bad," Lee said. "I should be able to bear down and make pitches. But it is affecting my ability to be consistent with my location. After the last few games I've had, it's time to do something different." Rich Harden would be the likely starter on Tuesday if Lee can't go, and it would seem logical for the Rangers to err on the side of caution, especially since they have a 10-game lead in the division. "All we can do is wait until tomorrow, when he throws," manager Ron Washington said. "If he can pitch Tuesday, he will. If there are any doubts, he won't pitch. If there is any reason to be cautious, we will."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.