Ruben Amaro Jr. on Cliff Lee's health

ATLANTA -- Cliff Lee took an important step in his recovery from a strained left elbow Tuesday afternoon at Turner Field.

He threw 20 fastballs in a bullpen session, his first since landing on the disabled list May 19.

"I can still tell something is there, but it's not painful or uncomfortable at all," Lee said afterward. "The past four or five days have been probably the best progression I've had since the first four or five days after I stopped throwing. Yeah, the last few days have been good."

Lee said he "potentially" could be pitching for the Phillies before the All-Star break next month, but that remains to be seen.

"It's tough to sit here and say anything right now," he said. "Tomorrow is going to be the big day to see how I feel. Hopefully I come in and feel normal and continue as planned. I'll have a bullpen in a couple more days. If I come in and there's soreness or discomfort or something, we'll probably push it back a day or two."

Lee estimated he was throwing 90 to 100 percent.

"I was throwing as hard as I could," he said.

Rookie right-hander David Buchanan has made five starts in Lee's place. He is 2-3 with a 5.97 ERA. Lee was 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts before the injury.

Montgomery gives Amaro vote of confidence

Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. received a vote of confidence Tuesday.

ATLANTA -- Phillies president David Montgomery has issued a vote of confidence for general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

Amaro replaced Hall of Fame general manager Pat Gillick following the 2008 World Series championship. The team returned to the World Series in 2009, and had the best record in baseball in 2010 and 2011. But the Phillies finished at .500 in 2012, lost 89 games in 2013 and are on pace to lose 91 games this season.

"I just believe that group of people gave us the successful period we had," Montgomery told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "They had different roles in it. I know people focus on Ruben's role having changed vis-a-vis 2009 vs. 2008. But I talked to Pat Gillick about our club this morning. Pat Gillick sat in that entire draft. It's not like we're not benefiting from the thinking of the same people we had before. That's why you have to look at whole body of work. Have we been served well? My answer to that is yes."

Worth noting

• Ryne Sandberg rested second baseman Chase Utley on Tuesday. Utley is hitting .206 with a .561 OPS in 78 plate appearances since May 28. Sandberg said Utley's swing has been getting a little long and hopes the rest can help.

• Right-hander Aaron Nola, the organization's first-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, threw in an intrasquad game Tuesday in Clearwater, Fla.

• Second-round pick Matt Imhof, a left-hander, has signed for $1,187,900, equaling the pick value at No. 47.

•Double-A Reading outfielders Kelly Dugan, a second-round pick in 2009, and Zach Collier, a sandwich pick in 2008, have been activated from the disabled list. Dugan has been sidelined since April 25 with a strained left oblique. Collier has been out since May 20 with a strained lower back.