Lee spurns Yankees, signs with Phillies

191542.jpg

Lee spurns Yankees, signs with Phillies

By Jim Salisbury
CSN Philly

In yet another example of how far the Phillies have come as a franchiseand a destination spot for premier players, the team agreed on afive-year contract with free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee late Mondaynight, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

Yes, Cliff Leeis coming back to the team that traded him away a year ago, the teamfor which he dazzled in the 2009 postseason, the team that he neverwanted to leave.

Lee, 32, spurned huge offers from the TexasRangers and New York Yankees to rejoin the Phillies. His five-year dealis worth 120 million and includes an option for a sixth year.

The Yankees offer was for seven years and 148 million.

Leesreturn to the Phils creates the most powerful starting rotation in themajors. In addition to Lee, the Phillies have Roy Halladay, the 2010National League Cy Young winner, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.

Thesigning is also further proof as if any more was needed that thePhillies are one of the games elite franchises, a Goliath, as agentScott Boras called them at the winter meetings last week.

In alittle over a year, the Phils have traded for Lee, traded for Halladay,traded for Oswalt, and signed Lee. Halladay, by the way, had a no-tradeclause in Toronto and hand-picked the Phillies as the team for which hewanted to pitch.

Clearly, these arent Curt Schillings andScott Rolens Phillies anymore. The Phils, with their new winningtradition four straight National League East titles their string ofsellout crowds, and their willingness to pay top dollar for talent, area certifiable destination team for major-league ballplayers.

In a little more than a decade, the teams payroll has gone from 26 million to more than 160 million for the coming season.

WithLee coming back, at an average annual salary of 24 million, thePhillies will likely try to clear some salary by attempting to tradepitcher Joe Blanton or outfielder Raul Ibanez. Blanton is owed 17million through 2012. Ibanez is signed for 2011 at 11.5 million.

Fromthe beginning of this offseason, the Phillies had monitored Lees freeagency and hoped to get into the bidding provided his cost was withintheir price range. The Phils were thought to be out of the running whenthe Yankees pushed their offer upward.

But Lee never eliminatedthe Phillies. He had joined the Phillies in a trade from Cleveland inJuly 2009 and loved his brief time in Philadelphia. He let that beknown to Phillies management this winter. He expressed a strong desireto return and ownership made a payroll exception to sign him. The Philsalso had to break team policy and go five years on his contract. Inrecent years, the team had been reluctant to go more than three yearson a pitcher.

Lee, the 2008 American League Cy Young winner,went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA for the Phils in the 2009 postseason. The teamdealt him to Seattle in December 2009 as it acquired Halladay fromToronto.

Last summer, the Phils tacitly admitted that tradingLee away was a mistake as it tried to get him back in July. Seattlewould not part with Lee unless the Phils included top prospect DomonicBrown in the deal. The Phillies refused and acquired Oswalt instead.

Fivemonths later, the Phils have signed Lee off the free-agent market. Theyhave righted their mistake and engineered what on paper looks to be oneof the greatest starting pitching rotations in the history of the game.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at jsalisbury@comcastsportsnet.com.

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

red_sox_brian_johnson_2_052617.jpg

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

red_sox_brian_johnson_052617.jpg

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.