UPDATE: Lee tried to soften the situation in a chat with reporters after Saturday’s game:
“Basically during the season I want to focus on pitching and not worry about that stuff. That’s more spring training and offseason type of stuff,” Lee said. “During the season I want to worry about pitching and focus on getting opposing hitters out rather than contract status and that stuff.”
3:22pm: Cliff Lee made his Mariners debut last night by shutting out the Rangers for seven brilliant innings, so naturally this afternoon his agent told ESPN.com’s Buster Olney that he “wouldn’t anticipate” the impending free agent remaining in Seattle beyond this season. Here’s more from agent Darek Braunecker:
We’re five months away from free agency, so I think that’s the most likely scenario at this point. We’ve not really had any significant discussions with Seattle. The way I look at it, there will be in excess of 15-plus clubs seeking a top-end of the rotation type of guy that will have the resources.
All of which is probably true, but quotes like that are why so many people dislike agents. What exactly is the point of saying that kind of thing to a prominent reporter literally hours after your client debuts for his new team? What, does Braunecker think he really needs to prime the pump for Lee’s free agency in six months?
Instead of perpetuating agent stereotypes and upsetting the fans he’ll be pitching in front of for at least the next few months, why not go with a “no comment” and just let Lee’s excellent debut be the story for a while?
White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from Saturday night’s start against the Tigers due to a confrontation he had with White Sox coaches and front office staff over the 1976 retro uniforms the club was to wear. Sale used a knife to cut up his uniform as well as the uniforms of some other players, protesting the club’s decision to wear them. The White Sox suspended Sale five games “for violating team rules, for insubordination, and for destroying team equipment.”
Sale spoke about the incident for the first time, as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports. The lefty apologized to fans who came to see him pitch and said he regrets “not being there for my guys,” referring to the bullpen, which had to cover for Sale on Saturday. Matt Albers got the spot start and went two innings.
Sale felt the uniform would have impacted his performance, saying, “[The ’76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn’t want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn’t want anything to alter my mechanics. … There’s a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing.”
Sale was firm that he doesn’t regret standing up for he believes in. “Absolutely not,” he said. He continued, “Do I regret saying business should not be first before winning? Absolutely not.”
With his five-game suspension to end after Wednesday’s game, Sale is on track to start Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
At the end of April, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon was handed an 80-game suspension by Major League Baseball after testing positive for exogenous testosterone and Clostebol, performance-enhancing drugs. Gordon says he took those substances unknowingly.
Gordon will return to the Marlins on Thursday, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. The club was 10-11 prior to Gordon’s suspension. Since then, the club has gone 43-35 and is now tied with the Mets for second place in the NL East, five games behind the Nationals. Impressively, the Marlins have collectively hit .272/.330/.408 in Gordon’s absence, which compares favorably to the league average .252/.320/.410 triple-slash line.
Gordon, who made the NL All-Star team in 2014 and ’15, was hitting .266/.289/.340 with three doubles, two triples, five RBI, 13 runs scored, and six stolen bases in 97 plate appearances. Derek Dietrich has handled second base in the meantime and has done an admirable job, batting .275/.366/.398 with 22 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 314 PA. Nevertheless, Gordon is likely to return to full-time duty at second base.