Cliff Lee could return this month

Cliff Lee

After witnessing Cliff Lee throw a solid bullpen session, Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times thinks that the 2008 Cy Young winner could make his first professional start as a Mariner in a couple of weeks. Lee is currently sidelined with an abdominal strain.

“He looked outstanding,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He was supposed to throw between 50 and 55 pitches and he ended up throwing I think 63.”

Lee’s simulated game is scheduled for Friday.

“We’re going to look at a simulated game that we had scheduled for two or three innings and maybe see if we can’t bump that up to three or four because he feels so good,” Wakamatsu said.

At which point, I asked him whether the team would consider shortening the number of simulated games Lee would pitch and theoretically have him ready to return this month.

“Yeah, that’s our tendency right now…that’s a possibility,” Wakamatsu said.

Remember, Lee still has a five-game suspension to serve for an incident that occurred during spring training. His appeal on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday, and Lee is simply hoping to get the amount of games reduced. Nevertheless, whenever he does make his debut, Seattle will cheerfully welcome him onto their struggling team. So far, the Mariners have fared poorly offensively, waiting on that boost from other additions Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley and Casey Kotchman. Thus, they’re practically relying on their pitching. But they don’t have much as starter Erik Bedard is attempting to come back from a surgically-repaired left shoulder as well.

It’s still very early in the season, but Mariner fans must be a tad worried. Team GM Jack Zduriencik had a lauded offseason, but injuries and slow starts are damaging his work. Obviously, once they get a cohesive and healthy team together we’ll get a true sense of their strength. Still, you can never tell with injuries, or Milton Bradley, for that matter.

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MLB Roundup: Red-hot Renteria, Lee’s bad news & the BoSox’s early woes

Giants 5, Braves 4
Quick, name the team with the best record in baseball. The Yankees? Sorry – they’re currently only .500. The answer would be the Giants, who have begun the year 4-0 after coming from behind to the beat the Braves 5-4 in 13 innings on Friday. Quick, name the hottest hitter in the league right now. If you said Albert Pujols, then punch yourself in the ear because you’re wrong. If you said Edgar Renteria, you’re right, but you probably only said that to be a wiseass – so the jokes on you. Renteria is batting an astonishing .688 to start the year after going 3-for-5 with a game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, which helped San Fran erase a 4-2 deficit. I don’t know how Pablo Sandoval slimmed down and stole Renteria’s jersey without anyone seeing, but there’s no way that’s the real Edgar Renteria.

Rangers 6, Mariners 2
Nelson Cruz abused the Mariners on Friday, going 3-for-4 with a solo homer, two RBI and two runs scored in the Rangers’ 6-2 victory. Seattle is hitting .199 as a team and was 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. It was the club’s fourth straight loss and making matters worse, it was revealed that Cliff Lee might not come off the disabled list until May now.

Royals 4, Red Sox 3
It’s early, but you know things are bad in Boston when they’re losing to Kansas City. Rick Ankiel (yes, that Rick Ankiel) hit a go-ahead two-run single off Daniel Bard in the eighth inning of the Royals’ 4-3 win over the BoSox on Friday night. It was the fourth hit of the night for Ankiel, who also hit a solo home run and drove in three runs. Not a bad night for the newcomer, who helped sent Boston spiraling to a 1-3 start.

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