Mariners' Cliff Lee suspended for start of season
Pitcher Cliff Lee plans to appeal the suspension and could be available for the second game of the regular season in Oakland.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — So much for that 1-2 punch atop their rotation the Mariners planned to open the season with.
Those plans were thrown a Cliff Lee curveball on Wednesday, when Major League Baseball handed the Mariners left-hander a five-game suspension for throwing at Diamondbacks hitter Chris Snyder in a Cactus League game three days ago. The suspension is somewhat unusual given that it arose from an exhibition game and that the batter in this case, Snyder, wasn't even hit.
Lee plans to appeal the suspension and could be available for the second game of the regular season in Oakland if the process is delayed long enough or his penalty is reduced. If not, the Mariners will have to do some rotation juggling with their No. 2 starter unavailable until April 10 in Texas.
"It is what it is," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "We'll let the process play itself out and see where it takes us."
But Zduriencik added: "We'd like to get a definitive on this sooner rather than later."
Lee was not available for comment on the issue, telling a team spokesman he'd rather wait.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said he'd wanted to have the rotation set by March 30, but that might not be possible depending on how the appeal plays out. Wakamatsu added that he could get Lee into some late exhibition games in Albuquerque, or San Francisco, to keep him fresh should he have to miss the first five games of the season.
The Lee suspension comes on the heels of another Cactus League incident in which Giants pitcher Barry Zito plunked Prince Fielder of the Brewers with what many observers feel was an intentionally thrown "purpose pitch." Fielder had homered off Zito in a game last season and celebrated by pretending to bowl over teammates at home plate, who fell to the side like pins.
No suspension was given in that case even though Zito actually hit Fielder.
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