Cliff Lee pitches three innings in Cactus League debut
Mariners' Cliff Lee pitched three innings in his first Cactus League game, then said he's feeling comfortable with the team.
Seattle Times staff reporter
SURPRISE, Ariz. — The good news from Cliff Lee didn't end when he left the mound Wednesday following his first Cactus League appearance for the Mariners.
After allowing a run in three fairly tidy innings in a 6-3 win over Texas, the 2008 Cy Young Award winner was greeted by a half-dozen or so national reporters joining the regular local contingent.
And what they wanted to know is whether he's beginning to feel comfortable in his new confines after a whirlwind of a year that saw him go from Cleveland ace to Philadelphia World Series star to a surprise landing in Seattle.
Lee's early verdict?
"I like it here."
Seattle has gambled not just that the 31-year-old Lee can help them win an AL West title in 2010, but that entering the final year of his contract, he might just warm enough to the city and team to want to stick around.
Lee said he has had no contract discussions with Seattle yet, but said that being around the Mariners can only help the team's cause.
"It didn't take me long to realize it's good people here, and a good organization," he said. "In free agency, you don't get the luxury to go spend some time with the team and the guys to see how you are going to like it, so looking at it that way, it's a good opportunity to do that."
Lee also raved about Seattle's defense, which turned two double plays behind him, helping mitigate the damage of allowing five hits and a walk.
"Unbelievable defense," he said. "Great bullpen."
And on Wednesday, a little bit better Lee, whose first spring start was delayed when he had surgery to remove a bone spur in his left foot Feb. 5.
He faced hitters for the first time all spring last week in a simulated game in which he was unusually wild, hitting two batters.
Noting that he didn't hit anyone Wednesday, manager Don Wakamatsu joked that "we are a foot closer" to Lee being in prime form.
Lee threw 46 pitches, 36 for strikes. He allowed a hit in each of the first two innings but got out of it. He then gave up two singles to start the third, but a double-play, while it scored the run, helped quell the damage.
"It was a lot better today than the other day," Lee said. "I was a little erratic. I tried to throw a fastball away to a lefty and ended up hitting him, so I was missing pretty bad."
The foot, meanwhile, is just fine, he said, calling it "a nonissue."
So, he says, is any perception that he still feels stung by the trade from Philly, which he admitted initially caught him off-guard.
"I'm trying to make the best of the situation," he said. "We've got a good team and I like where I'm at. It's not bad at all."
Wakamatsu says Bradley interview no big deal
Milton Bradley set off a few waves nationally with an interview with ESPN in which he levied heavy criticism at the way he was treated in Chicago last year by fans and the organization.
Wakamatsu said he hadn't seen the entire thing, but that he didn't consider it a concern.
"I think that he's got to go through that a little bit for his own sake," Wakamatsu said. "But I think he is happy here. We are extremely pleased with his progress and he's fitting in well."
He also said he wasn't unhappy that Bradley would give such an interview now.
"We talk about giving guys the freedom to feel welcome here and be themselves," he said. "This is something that will pass. What I care about most is Milton coming in and being in good shape and playing the game and helping us win."
• In his latest step to returning from a groin injury, closer David Aardsma threw about 25 pitches Wednesday in a bullpen session, then said later that he made it through just fine and expects to make his spring debut Friday against Kansas City.
• Mike Sweeney, attempting to make the team as an invited free agent, had the big blow of the game, a three-run double in the fifth, and also had another double in going 2 for 3. He is now 10 for 13 (.769) with six RBI.
• The Mariners cut eight players off the major-league roster, sending pitcher Ryan Feierabend to Tacoma and pitchers Josh Fields, Steven Shell, Nick Hill, Chris Seddon and Mauricio Robles and catchers Luis Oliveros and Steven Baron to the minor-league camp. The major-league roster stands at 55.
• Wakamatsu said Erik Bedard, attempting to recover from a torn labrum, is long tossing with no problems. "He's still a ways away from getting on the mound, but everything right now is extremely good. He's been throwing long toss with no problems. His action is good, body is in good shape, so so far, so good."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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