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Pitcher Cliff Lee eager to complete long journey to mound in Seattle

SEATTLE — LHP Cliff Lee has been through a season's worth of events for his new Mariners team, and he hasn't even pitched in a game that counts yet.

The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner has tried an unproven blood therapy for his strained abdomen. He has pitched simulated games. He has thrown bullpen sessions from Peoria, Ariz., to Arlington, Texas, since getting hurt March 15. He has been in Tacoma, Wash., for a minor-league rehab outing.

He has also been suspended for five games for throwing over the head of a hitter in an exhibition game. He had an appeal hearing canceled, then later had the league drop the whole thing.

Finally, Lee makes his Mariners debut tonight at Safeco Field against Texas, his first start since Game 5 of the World Series on Nov. 2, when he beat the Yankees for the Phillies.

"I'm anxious. I can't speed up the clock," Lee said. "(Today), it's just go out there and have fun. Let it all hang out."

Almost all. He will be limited to about 100 pitches.

Diversity up: MLB equaled its best grades for racial and gender diversity hiring, even as the percentage of black players dropped again last year. MLB received an A for race and a B for gender hiring in the annual study released by UCF's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. Baseball received the same grades in last year's report. Among major-leaguers, though, the number of black players dropped from 10.2 percent to 9 percent.

Astros: LHP Wandy Rodriguez will miss today's start at Atlanta because of back spasms. RHP Brett Myers will move up a day to replace Rodriguez, who is likely to start Saturday.

Athletics: RHP Justin Duchscherer left the game vs. the Blue Jays in the fourth because of a sore left hip.

Diamondbacks: One day after RHP Kris Benson was pulled from a start after two innings, he was put on the 15-day DL with a strained shoulder. He is 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA in three starts.

Phillies: Closer Brad Lidge (right elbow surgery) was activated from the disabled list before the game vs. the Mets.

Rangers: All-Star 2B Ian Kinsler rejoined the team and will likely make his season debut today vs. Seattle. Kinsler completed a three-game rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Frisco without any setbacks with his right high ankle sprain.

Tigers: Magglio Ordonez singled in the fourth inning vs. the Twins for his 2,000th career hit. He becomes the sixth Venezuelan to reach the milestone, joining Omar Vizquel, Luis Aparicio, Andres Galarraga, Dave Concepcion and Bobby Abreu.

Twins: Justin Morneau says he's not concerned about a back injury that kept him out of the lineup for the second straight day. He said this "tweaked" back is unrelated to the back ailment that led to him missing the final few weeks of last season.

Pitcher Cliff Lee eager to complete long journey to mound in Seattle 04/29/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 29, 2010 11:32pm]

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