Cliff Lee is “very close to picking up a ball”

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Finally a dose of hope for injured ace Cliff Lee …

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg told Matt Gelb at the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday evening that the left-hander is nearly over the discomfort in his pitching elbow and “very close to picking up a ball.”

Lee has been on the disabled list since May 19 because of a left elbow strain and there is still no timetable for his return to Philly’s active roster. If he makes it back before the July 31 trade deadline, he is sure to be a popular target for contending teams.

The 35-year-old owns a spectacular 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9 in 734 1/3 innings since joining Philadelphia prior to the start of the 2011 campaign. He is earning a $25 million salary this season and owed $25 million in 2015 (with a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016).

Someone stole the bat from the Ken Griffey, Jr. statue at Safeco Field

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The Mariners unveiled a statue of Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr. earlier this year at Safeco Field, featuring the slugger in his famous follow-through seen after each of his 630 career home runs. Chris Daniels of KING 5 News in Seattle reported on Tuesday evening that someone had stolen the bat from the statue.

Thankfully, the Seattle Police Department announced that the bat has been recovered and a suspect has been arrested. They expect to provide more details later. Daniels reports the Mariners have confirmed the news.

My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.