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Ryan: Heat won't be factor for Cliff Lee

If the summer heat wasn't enough of a hot topic in Texas, another log was thrown onto the fire Thursday after Rangers president Nolan Ryan discussed how it might affect signing ace pitcher Cliff Lee after the season.

Lee lasted just 6 1/3 innings in Wednesday's 7-6 loss to the New York Yankees, tied for his shortest outing of the season -- ending his string of 10 consecutive starts having pitched eight or more innings. He appeared to run out of gas, admitting Wednesday was the hottest he's been on a mound.

"That's part of playing in Texas: You've got to figure out how to deal with the heat," Lee said after the game. "It was definitely a hot one, but it was hot for both sides. That's an excuse. I'm not going to sit here and make excuses. It was a even playing field and both teams had to deal with it. You can't change the weather. You can't change the environment. It is what it is and you have to deal with it."

Ryan and new managing general partner Chuck Greenberg said the heat should not impact the club's ability to sign or keep key players, including Lee, who will be a free agent after the season.

"The heat is what it is," Ryan said Thursday. "What your attitude is about the heat is a personal thing -- how you view it, how you use it, if it's a distraction for you. It depends on the individual.

"As far as Cliff's concerned, it was one of the hottest games because it was extremely hot and there wasn't a breeze. I'm a believer that you use that to your advantage. He outlasted the other pitcher."

The temperature at first pitch Wednesday was 99 degrees.

Yankees starter Javier Vazquez left the game after giving up six runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings.

With the Boston Red Sox coming to town for a weekend three-game series, the Dallas-Fort Worth area is in the midst of a 13-day streak with temperatures above the 100-degree mark -- with the heat index even higher. Weather forecasts project highs above 100 degrees to continue at least through Sunday, when there will be an afternoon game vs. Boston.

On Thursday, Ryan said April and May make it "as enjoyable to play here as any place." He added that you're probably talking about 50 games in the Texas heat and a pitcher may play 20 of those games.

"And of those 20, maybe four or five are possibly in extreme heat," Ryan said. "When you start analyzing, this heat situation is blown way out of proportion. I'd much rather pitch last night and be climatized to it and not in the cold somewhere else in April or September."

Ryan hopes that the heat won't be the determining factor in whether Lee signs a long-term deal with the Rangers after the season or goes somewhere else.

"I look at it as the individual and what their priorities are," Ryan said. "We have a lot of very attractive things here in the Metroplex versus going somewhere else to play. That's going to come down to whether it's Cliff Lee or another free agent and what's important to them."

Greenberg was quick to point out that the weather is nice in October during postseason baseball, something he plans on seeing this season and in the future. The Rangers currently have the biggest divisional lead in the majors, leading the AL West by 7½ games over the Los Angeles Angels.

Ryan, as he mentioned in a chat on ESPNDallas.com and during an interview with the Ben & Skin Show on ESPN 103.3 FM in Dallas, said the team is looking at modifications to the park to make it cooler -- including having looked at sun screens that would reduce the temperature in the ballpark by 15 degrees.

"As I said in that interview, we're looking at any new technology that comes along that we think can make economic sense to pursue," Ryan said. "Do I see us putting a retractable roof over the stadium? No I don't. It doesn't make economic sense to do that.

"Our players feel like the heat is an advantage for us because a lot of visiting teams are overwhelmed by the heat. I don't look at that as a priority as much with the players as I do with fan experience and the impact it may have on the fans. When we're into an extreme heat wave in a long homestand, it does have an impact on fan participation because of the fact that people deal with it on a daily basis in their lives. They don't want to experience that. They want to go home and get away from that."

The issue elevated after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who lost out on his bid to purchase the Rangers to the Ryan-Greenberg group during last week's bankruptcy auction, discussed why the heat in Arlington has put the Rangers at a "disadvantage."

"I don't know if you can go top five [payroll] just because the Rangers are always at a disadvantage just because of the heat factor out there [at Rangers Ballpark]," Cuban told the Ben & Skin Show on Monday. "You're never going to be able to quite charge the same as Boston is just because of the comfort factor going out there. A big part of what we wanted to be able to do is try to find leverage points with the city of Arlington to try to come up with some solutions for sitting out in the bleachers.

"It can be brutal out there."

The Rangers drew 94,797 fans for their two-game series against the Yankees, the largest two-game draw in franchise history.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.