Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Lee to start opening day for Phillies

CLEARWATER — LHP Cliff Lee will pitch the Phillies' opener March 31 at the Rangers, the team he helped to reach the 2010 World Series.

Taking over for injured LHP Cole Hamels, Lee, 35, will be making the second opening-day start of his career and first since 2009 for the Indians.

Lee pitched five shutout innings Saturday against the Red Sox and has a 2.63 ERA in four spring games.

"Easy call," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Obvious reasons. An All-Star last year. The way he's pitched this spring. Easy call."

RHP Yu Darvish is slated to start the opener for Texas.

"It's definitely an honor," Lee said. "I look forward to it. I'm ready to go. It's coming on us pretty quick. It's two weeks away, so I'm ready to go."

Lee was 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA in 31 starts last year, when he made his fourth All-Star team.

The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner, Lee has gone 85-50 with a 2.89 ERA, 25 complete games and 12 shutouts in 186 starts during the past six seasons.

Sandberg said veteran RHPs A.J. Burnett and Kyle Kendrick will follow Lee in the rotation.

"We look good," Lee said. "Obviously Cole being injured isn't good, but we get him back and we're going to be pretty strong. Health is the key to everything. If we stay healthy and continue to go out there then we'll be a solid chance and give the team a chance a lot."

ADDING DEPTH: The Phillies acquired C Koyie Hill from the Nationals in exchange for cash or a player to be named later. Hill will report to minor-league camp. He is expected to be a backup at Double or Triple A.

Yanks: Getting his work

BRADENTON — When rain caused the cancellation of the Yankees' game with the Pirates, RHP Hiroki Kuroda did his throwing indoors.

Kuroda traveled back to New York's spring camp in Tampa after the game was called off following a 44-minute delay at the start. He was scheduled to throw a five-inning, 75-pitch simulated game in New York's indoor batting cages.

ELLSBURY TO WAIT: CF Jacoby Ellsbury, who was scratched from Sunday's game against the Braves with tightness in his right calf, is expected to be ready to play this week. However, he won't play today when the Yankees host the Red Sox. Ellsbury spent the first seven years of his career with Boston before signing with New York as a free agent.

BACKUP RECOVERING: INF Brendan Ryan, sidelined by lower back soreness for a week, took batting practice on the field.

Jays: Not worried

DUNEDIN — With less than two weeks left in spring training, Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen has yet to pitch in a game.

The right-hander isn't concerned.

Janssen, who has been dealing with shoulder stiffness, told canada.com that his problems are not similar to last season's, when he was coming back from offseason surgery. He had 34 saves and a 2.56 ERA in 56 appearances despite pitching through pain.

Janssen threw a bullpen session Saturday and is scheduled to pitch live batting practice today, giving him time to appear in two or three spring games — enough, he said, to be ready for opening day.

Not that he wasn't concerned.

"You keep thinking, 'What the heck's going on? When's it going to go away? It can't go away fast enough,' " Janssen told canada.com.

"You try to find ways to get it out of your mind, but it's hard."

Toronto opens the season March 31 against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

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