Cliff Lee has yet to throw from the mound this spring – he’ll do that later this morning – but there’s not a pitcher in camp who hasn’t been watching him.
Watching him do what, you ask?
“Everything,” rookie Nick Hill said. “Everything he does has a purpose. Out here, everyone works hard, so it’s not just that. It’s the intensity you see, whether it’s stretching, whatever. ”
Lee, 31, has a 90-52 career record and a Cy Young Award to his credit, and pitchers take notice of such things. Coming off minor foot surgery two weeks ago, Lee has been limited to what he has been allowed to do on the field.
Still, each morning before stretch, a handful of pitchers – the cast changes daily – gather round Lee and chat. Some of it is baseball, some of it life, all of it productive.
“You’d be insane not to talk to him,” lefty Jason Vargas said.
Lee views this spring as simply going about his business, getting ready for another season. He’s always been businesslike, he said, and always happy to talk baseball.
“I’m new in camp, so it’s not like I’m handing out advice,” he said, laughing. “If someone asks a question, I’m happy to talk. And talking pitching is something we all just do, naturally.”
When the Mariners had a meeting three days ago during the rains to talk baseball, Lee was one of the players who stood up and talked about what it was like getting to a World Series last year.
He didn’t mention he’d gone 2-0 with a 2.81 earned run average in that World Series. Lee simply talked about what getting there was like.
“He told everyone he wanted to get back,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “And he had their attention.”