Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said on Wednesday that Cliff Lee will make a rehab start in Triple-A on Sunday. (As you can tell by the photo, they’re quite excited about his arrival in Tacoma!) Then assuming there are no setbacks, he will make his regular season debut for the Mariners on April 30 against the Texas Rangers.
Lee, who has been on the disabled list since April 4 with an abdominal strain, has already thrown a pair of simulated games without incident, and on Tuesday saw his five-game suspension rescinded after he convinced MLB officials that his injuries – not ill intent – were the reason he threw a ball over the head of Arizona catcher Chris Snyder in a spring training game.
Who Lee bumps from Seattle’s rotation is still a question, and no easy decision given the recent strong outings from back-of-the-rotation guys Doug Fister (2-0, six hits, one run in last two starts) and Jason Vargas (2-0, three runs in last two starts).
The guess here is that Ian Snell, who was scheduled to start Saturday but has been pushed back to Tuesday, will be the guy who loses out. But that’s just speculation at this point. One thing I don’t expect the Mariners to do is act like the Cubs and move Felix Hernandez to the bullpen.
And in the good-problem-to-have department, Erik Bedard was scheduled to throw a 60-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday, with an eye toward returning in late May.
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Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor reached an agreement with the Rangers on a six-year, $49.5 million contract extension. It was announced on Saturday and finalized on Thursday. The contract is pretty typical — a signing bonus, escalating salaries each year — except for one thing: Odor received two elite horses as well, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Here are those horses, per Jared Sandler of 1053 The Fan:
Players do sometimes get perks as part of their contracts. Usually it’s mundane stuff like extra game tickets for family and friends, use of a suite, limo rides, or plane tickets. Sometimes they can get rather specific. For example, in 2005, Troy Glaus got $250,000 per year in “personal business expenses” from the Diamondbacks, which was for his wife’s equestrian training. Hall of Famer George Brett got a 10 percent stake in an apartment complex in Memphis when he signed an extension with the Royals in the mid-1980’s. But as far as my research was able to go, no one received any horses, so that’s new.
Of course, the Rangers certainly think Odor is worth the perks. Last season, Odor hit .271/.296/.502 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 632 plate appearances. And at just 23 years old, he has plenty of room to improve.
The Mariners have signed reliever Mark Lowe, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. The Tigers released him on Sunday.
Lowe, 33, is entering the last of a two-year, $11 million deal signed with the Tigers in December 2015. The right-hander struggled to a 7.11 ERA with a 49/21 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings last season. His performance this spring didn’t do much to inspire confidence.
Lowe began his major league career with the Mariners, breaking out in 2009 with a 3.26 ERA across 80 innings. He has been inconsistent throughout most of his 11-year big league career, however.