Cliff Lee scratched from Tuesday start with back issue

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More bad news for Cliff Lee.

The left-hander has turned in an 8.28 ERA over his last four starts and is now being scratched from his scheduled Tuesday start due to a strained muscle on the right side of his lower back.  This according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan.

Lee threw off a mound Sunday and showed improvement, but the Rangers don’t want to risk further injury.  They have nearly locked up a playoff spot for the first time since 1999 and having a healthy ace in October is crucial to postseason success.

Lee, 32, has posted a 10-8 record, a 3.37 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 24 total starts this season.  He’s fanned 161 batters in 184.1 innings and has walked only 12.

The Rangers may push him back until the weekend, when they have a big series with the Yankees.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.