Cliff Lee scheduled to make M's debut April 30

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CliffLeeTacoma.JPGSeattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said on Wednesday that Cliff Lee will make a rehab start in Triple-A on Sunday. (As you can tell by the photo, they’re quite excited about his arrival in Tacoma!) Then assuming there are no setbacks, he will make his regular season debut for the Mariners on April 30 against the Texas Rangers.

Lee, who has been on the disabled list since April 4 with an abdominal strain, has already thrown a pair of simulated games without incident, and on Tuesday saw his five-game suspension rescinded after he convinced MLB officials that his injuries – not ill intent – were the reason he threw a ball over the head of Arizona catcher Chris Snyder in a spring training game.

Who Lee bumps from Seattle’s rotation is still a question, and no easy decision given the recent strong outings from back-of-the-rotation guys Doug Fister (2-0, six hits, one run in last two starts) and Jason Vargas (2-0, three runs in last two starts).

The guess here is that Ian Snell, who was scheduled to start Saturday but has been pushed back to Tuesday, will be the guy who loses out. But that’s just speculation at this point. One thing I don’t expect the Mariners to do is act like the Cubs and move Felix Hernandez to the bullpen.

And in the good-problem-to-have department, Erik Bedard was scheduled to throw a 60-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday, with an eye toward returning in late May.

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MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.