TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME: Former Texas Ranger Cliff Lee downplays start against old team
May 22, 2011 Leave a comment
PHILADELPHIA — Cliff Lee knew he would have to face the media Friday afternoon, and at least a dozen reporters crowded around his locker to talk about his four-month stint with the Texas Rangers last year and their courtship of him in the off-season.
“I had to answer a million questions about this whole thing, it seems like,” said Lee, who selected Philadelphia over the Rangers and Yankees.
Making the storyline more attractive is that Lee will face the Rangers tonight at Citizens Bank Park.
He has plenty of experience facing former teams, as he has played for four clubs in his career, so he isn’t expecting any emotional baggage when he hits the mound.
But he did admit that the Rangers were the front-runner until late in the free-agency process and said that he remains friends with several of his teammates from the last half of last season and the postseason run.
“I don’t think it’s going to be different than any other start as far as how I feel when I’m on the mound,” said Lee, who is just 2-4 with a 3.84 ERA after nine starts.
“Obviously, I have experience with the guys who are coming to the plate. It’s a little bit different, but I’m not going to be nervous or worried. I’m still going to try to make pitches and execute pitches.”
The Rangers acquired Lee on July 8 in a six-player trade with Seattle. He made 15 regular-season starts and five in the postseason. He chose the Phillies over the Rangers, who offered seven years and $161 million, and the Yankees.
Philadelphia didn’t enter into the fray until late in the process but snatched him away from Arlington.
“Up until the Phillies got involved, it was very likely that I was going to be with the Rangers,” said Lee, who went 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 15 starts for the Rangers but dominated in his first three playoff starts.
“When they got involved, it made it a very tough decision. With all the options I had, there really wasn’t a bad choice, and I felt like it was going to work out.”
Lee was presented with his American League championship ring before Friday’s game. Both he and the Rangers are expecting to have a little fun tonight as they face each other.
“We know firsthand how good Cliff is,” Michael Young said. “There’s a mutual respect, but it’s once the game starts we’re going to try to do everything to win a ballgame.”
Pitchers hit in National League ballparks during interleague play, which might have been the No. 1 highlight for C.J. Wilson in the opener against the Phillies.
Playing without a designated hitter wasn’t the only change in the Rangers’ lineup.
Elvis Andrus was back in the leadoff spot and could be there tonight against Lee.
Manager Ron Washington wanted to use Endy Chavez in the top spot against Roy Halladay, but didn’t want Chavez roaming center field only a day after experiencing tightness in his right hamstring.
So Craig Gentry was in center again, and Mitch Moreland was in right field. Chavez, though, doubled as pinch hitter for Wilson to start the eighth and later scored. He stayed in the game in center field.
Monday remains a possibility for Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz to return from their medical rehabilitation assignments, which continued Friday for Triple A Round Rock.
They teamed up for two runs in the second inning as Hamilton led off with a double and Cruz followed with a home run.
Hamilton finished 1 for 4 and Cruz was 3 for 4 with two runs scored in a 5-4 loss to Colorado Springs.(Courtesy of Ft. Worth Star-telegram Jeff Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org)