Carlos Lee spent the All-Star break back home in Panama and missed yesterday’s team workout because of “an issue” with his return flight.
Technically it was a “voluntary” workout, but Bernardo Fallas of the Houston Chronicle notes that “the Astros were counting on everybody who had not played at the All-Star Game to be there” and general manager Ed Wade made no attempt to hide his disappointment with Lee’s no-show:
The workout was not mandatory, clubs are not allowed to make post-All-Star break workouts mandatory, but I’m still disappointed that he wasn’t there. It would have been respectful if he would have been there.
Fallas speculates that Lee won’t be in the starting lineup for tonight’s game against the Pirates, which is fair enough, but my guess is that the whole thing would have been much less of an issue if Lee wasn’t hitting .240 with by far the worst OPS of his career.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.