Ruben Amaro Jr. shoots down Justin Upton for Cliff Lee rumor

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Pedro Gomez of ESPN.com has the most interesting rumor of the winter meetings so far:

Justin Upton being shopped around is well known, but Cliff Lee as the return would seemingly come out of nowhere (although can there really be “out of nowhere” when Ruben Amaro Jr. is involved?). Lee has three years and $87.5 million remaining on his deal, while Upton is owed $38.5 million for the next three seasons.

UPDATE: Not so fast, apparently. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Repuplic spoke to a Diamondbacks source who said the Upton-for-Lee deal “hasn’t been discussed” and is “off base.”

UPDATE #2: Amaro very strongly denied the Gomez report, calling it “absolutely and unequivocally false.”

And That Happened: Thursday’s Score and Highlight

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Yeah, singular. Other than those ESPN Sunday Night games that opened the season for several years until recently I can’t remember a regular season day or night with only one game scheduled. I also don’t much like it, but no one asks me these things.

Cubs 9, Cardinals 6: The Cardinals led 3-1 heading into the Cubs’ half of the fifth, at which point Chicago went off for five runs, with Ian Happ hitting a two run homer and Jason Heyward, Antony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist each knocking in a run. St. Louis would continue to score but each time they did the Cubs answered, never trailing again.

Heyward had three hits on the night, Happ had that dinger, Rizzo had two doubles and Victor Caratini, giving the just-returned All-Star Willson Contreras an extra day off, had three hits and scored three times.

As for pitching, check out this usage pattern from Joe Maddon:

I guess everyone was fresh after the break, though, so why not?

We get a full slate of 15 games today. As God and Nature intended.