Will Cliff Lee claim he was blindsided?

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It’s a safe bet that Cliff Lee never guessed the Phillies would be considering dealing him barely a year and a half into a five-year, $120 million contract.

Lee picked Philly over competitive offers from the Rangers and Yankees because he wanted to be back in Phildelphia, even though the Phillies had already traded him once. Now it looks like it may well happen again.

Lee does have a partial no-trade clause that covers 21 teams. One presumes he put all of the clubs likely to acquire him on that list, leaving off unlikely possibilities such as Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and so on. If that is how he went about it, then he’d have the right to refuse a deal to his likely suitors: the Rangers and Dodgers. But if Lee is feeling unwanted in Philly, maybe he’d be willing to go. Maybe he’d simply ask for his 2016 vesting option, worth $27.5 million, to be picked up as part of a deal.

Or maybe not. There’s no reason to think the Phillies won’t bounce back and return to contention with a Roy Halladay-Lee-Cole Hamels rotation next year. Philadelphia is where Lee wanted to be 19 months ago. One rough year may not have changed that.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.