Thursday, July 30, 2009
Lee will make NL debut vs. Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee will make his National League debut Friday night for the Philadelphia Phillies.
And their new ace certainly looks comfortable with his new club and in his new colors. Lee -- sporting a bright blue Phillies No. 34 jersey and red cap and accompanied by 8-year-old son Jackson -- jumped to the top step in the visitor's dugout Thursday at AT&T Park and talked about being dealt from the Cleveland Indians a day earlier and how he hopes to help the Phillies to a repeat World Series title.
"It's a win-win situation. Now I'm playing for the defending world champions. With the offense we've got, it's going to be fun to watch these games and be a part of it," said Lee, who followed the Phillies during their special 2008 run. "They had a good team and they've still got a good team. All the pieces are back. Hopefully I can help them repeat. That's the ultimate goal."
Lee's impact will certainly be felt when he takes the mound against the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.
Any pressure? He just shrugged.
"Not really, no," Lee said. "Honestly, I don't. I look at things pretty simple. For me, it's an opportunity to help a team that's already successful. They've already got an unbelievable team. My job is to come in here and throw strikes and give them a chance to win every time I pitch. I don't put any extra pressure on myself at all."
The NL East-leading Phillies gave Cleveland four minor league prospects for Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco. Francisco was in the lineup starting in center field in place of Shane Victorino for the series opener at San Francisco. Victorino left Wednesday's 4-0 loss at Arizona in the seventh inning with a left knee contusion.
With the new additions, manager Charlie Manuel doesn't want much to change in terms of his club's approach.
"I want us to keep the same philosophy, the same routine, the same attitude and let Cliff Lee do what he does best -- pitch," Manuel said before Philadelphia opened a four-game series against the Giants. "I'm excited about it. He's a good pitcher. We're in a pennant race and expect to win. With Cliff, we definitely got better. I'm looking forward to seeing him. He's a good addition to our team."
This marked the second straight season the Indians traded the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner after sending CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers last year.
"It's going to be a big shot in the arm for them, the Cy Young in the American League pitching for them," San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy said. "They needed pitching and got a good one. He does a lot for them."
Lee turns 31 next month and his contract includes a $9 million club option for next season.
When managing the Indians from 2000-02, Manuel used to receive reports under his door about Lee during the pitcher's minor league days.
"They'd say: 'You don't need the reports on these guys. They're not going to be here for a while," Manuel said. "The reports were big on him when they first got him."
To clear roster room for Lee and Francisco, the Phillies optioned outfielder John Mayberry Jr. and right-hander Steven Register to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
"Going from worst to first in one day is about as good as it gets," Francisco said.