For local fans in Tacoma, they will get to see Cliff Lee pitch in a game for the first time since spring training. Lee will make a rehab start on Sunday in Tacoma against the Salt Lake Bees. Manager Don Wakamatsu said Lee should throw around 85 pitches.
If you want to get tickets, click here. I've spent my fair share of time at Cheney Stadium, and I will tell you it is a great place to watch a game, and a good bargain. Game time is set for 1:30 p.m.
If all goes well in the start - and there is no reason it shouldn't - Lee will return to the Mariners rotation for the April 30-May 2 series against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.
The original plan was to have Lee start May 2nd, but that taking into account a possible five-game suspension that Lee was handed for throwing at Chris Snyder in a spring training game. However, today MLB baseball overturned the suspension and Lee will miss no games and pay no fine. Wakamatsu said that they will re-evaluate the situation based on that news and Lee could start on April 30th instead of May 2nd. The Mariners don't want to move Felix Hernandez, who is slated to pitch on Saturday, May 1.
Lee threw 70 pitches in the simulated game and took four simulated inning breaks. (there's some shaky video of a few pitches below).
I thought he looked sharp. I talked to several hitters who said his fastball had good movement and changeup was absolutely nasty.
Adam Moore, Eric Byrnes, Matt Tuiasosopo and Rob Johnson all took swings off him.
How good was Lee? He broke three bats. Adam Moore first swing splintered his bat right down the middle. Both Lee and Erik Bedard were giggling in the clubhouse about it.
"His fastball has that natural cut, his changeup was absolutely filthy, good slider, good curveball," Moore said. "He looked good."
And what did Lee think? Here's a brief clip of his interview
Moore got really the only hit I saw, a grounder up the middle.
"Lucky," he said. "I need one of those in a real game."