There's a chance Cliff Lee returns this month

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cliff lee throwing.JPGThe Mariners were so encouraged by Cliff Lee’s 63-pitch bullpen session on Monday that they haven’t ruled out his return before the end of the month. Here’s what manager Don Wakamatsu told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times:

“Yeah, that’s our tendency right now…that’s a possibility,” Wakamatsu
said.

Lee’s return might be expedited if the Mariners choose to limit him to one simulated game followed by one minor league rehab start. One significant factor in this timetable is whether Lee’s five-game suspension is reduced during his appeal hearing on Wednesday.

Basically, worst-case scenario is that M’s fans get Lee back in the first week of May. That doesn’t sound so bad right now.

Kyle Schwarber has lost 17-20 pounds

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As is offseason tradition, the first of player-shape reports are trickling in. These usually use some variation of the phrase “best shape of [my/his] life.” This one, though, avoids that at least.

According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber has lost 17-20 pounds so far this offseason. Schwarber said that he’s “already big and strong,” so “might as well try to get more explosive, faster.”

Though Schwarber knocked out 30 home runs this past season, his numbers were otherwise pedestrian. He hit .211/.315/.467 with 59 RBI and 67 runs scored in 486 plate appearances.

There has been some speculation that the Cubs will try to trade Schwarber to an American League team where he can be a DH. He’s a subpar defender, so making him a full-time DH makes a lot of sense. So far, though, the only team that has been linked to Schwarber this offseason has been the Red Sox.