PP Report: Lieber Progressing Well

Jon Lieber's comeback attempt from reconstructive elbow surgery appears to be right on schedule. The Yankees right-hander was sidelined for virtually all of 2003 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He is expected to slot into the Yankees' rotation as the fifth starter.

"I feel probably as good as I've felt in two or three years," Lieber said. "My main goal is to be completely healthy this year and really contribute to this team."

With Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and David Wells gone from last year's rotation, the Yankees hope Lieber regains his All-Star form of 2001, when he went 20-6 for the Cubs.

"He finished last year 100 percent healthy," general manager Brian Cashman said. "He goes into spring training with no restrictions. He'll take his turn every five days in the spring training."

Lieber did pitch in 2003, compiling eight innings in three minor-league rehab appearances. Over those eight innings, he allowed six runs on 11 hits, but he struck out 10 batters without walking any.

Lieber signed a two-year deal with the Yankees before the 2003 season. He earned $300,000 last season and will earn $2.45 million in 2004. The Yankees hold a team option to bring him back for $8 million in 2005. In 9 major-league seasons, Lieber is 86-83 with a 4.19 ERA.

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