Whenever Cliff Lee walked out of the dugout at Bright House Field, Phillies fans followed with an ovation.
However, Lee pitched rather uncharacteristically. The prized free agent wasn’t razor sharp in a 6-2 loss yesterday to the Detroit Tigers. Lee gave up a hit, a pair of earned runs and a walk in two innings of work. He also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch in his first spring start.
“I was just out there trying to locate fastballs,” Lee said. “I wasn’t pitching like I’d like to be. I hit a guy and walked a guy. But it’s early. I was concentrating more on locating pitches than the actual results.”
Lee primarily threw fastballs, while tossing in some cutters, a couple of changeups, a few curveballs and a pair of sliders.
“I was mostly working on the fastball,” Lee said. “I’m taking one step at a time.”
Lee noticed the fan support he received.
“It was nice, but I’m trying to just focus on what I need to do out there,” Lee said. “I’m just trying to get ready for the season.”
Francisco beating Brown so far
Ben Francisco continues to impress in his quest for the right-field job. Francisco went 1-for-3 yesterday and is hitting .400.
“I’m just trying to do the best I can out there,” Francisco said. “I just want to hit the ball hard.”
Francisco has done that through the first three games of the Grapefruit League season. Domonic Brown, who is battling Francisco for the outfield gig, has yet to get into a groove and remains hitless.
“I’m still trying to make adjustments,” Brown said. “I’m not quite there yet with my hands. I’m working on it. It’s still just the beginning of spring training. I’ll be fine.”
Manager Charlie Manuel agrees with his young phenom.
“He’ll be alright once he gets some hits,” Manuel said.
Paging Chase Utley
Chase Utley missed his third straight exhibition games as he deals with tendinitis in his knee. Josh Barfield started at second base yesterday for the Phillies.
There is still no timetable for Utley to return to the lineup, according to Charlie Manuel. The All-Star is hitting, but not fielding or running.