Cliff Lee on track to return to Phillies’ rotation July 21

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From Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg has announced his post-all-star break rotation.

A.J. Burnett will start the first game back Friday in Atlanta. Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick will pitch the next two days.

Cliff Lee, making his final rehab start Monday in Clearwater, will start July 21 at home against San Francisco and Roberto Hernandez starts the next night.

Lee has made two minor league rehab starts for the High-A Clearwater Threshers — one sharp and the other a bit shaky. The 35-year-old left-hander has been out since mid-May because of a strained muscle in his pitching elbow.

Lee could theoretically fit in three starts for the Phillies before the July 31 trade deadline and he will be an attractive name on the block if he proves to be fully healthy in those outings. He had a 3.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 61/9 K/BB ratio in 68 innings before landing on the disabled list and owns a stellar 2.89 ERA in 814 total innings since signing with Philadelphia. Lee is making $25 million this season, owed another $25 million next season, and carries a $27.5 million vesting option (or $12.5 million buyout) for the 2016 campaign.

Report: Red Sox, J.D. Martinez close to a deal

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.

Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.

The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.

The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.