Cliff Lee: 'Tough' leaving Rangers
"It was a tough decision, it really was," Lee said before Game 1 of the interleague series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Rangers, which started Friday night. "But up until the Phillies got involved it was very likely that I was going to be with the Rangers. They got involved and it made it a tough decision."
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In the offseason, the Rangers' final offer to Lee was six years at $138 million and the New York Yankees presented a six-year, $132 million contract.
"Cliff chose what was best for his family," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We did offer him more money but he chose what was best for his family. I have no hard feelings. Would we like to have him? Damn right. But we didn't miss him."
Washington presented Lee with his American League Championship Series ring around 6:20 p.m. ET on Friday night.
Lee said he misses the hot weather of Texas and still follows his former team.
He's scheduled to pitch Saturday night against Colby Lewis.
"I know how good they can be," Lee said of the Rangers' lineup. "Last year through the playoffs we put it to some pretty good pitchers. They definitely have some talent in the lineup and score runs, regardless of who is throwing the ball, I've seen it. So I got to do everything I can to keep the ball out of the heart of the plate, not walk guys, make them swing their way on base and if I do that, we got a chance."
In his career, Lee has pitched for Seattle, Cleveland, Texas and now Philadelphia again.
He said he's had fun pitching in other cities, but yearned for a place to call home long term. He has that now in Philadelphia.
"That's the benefit of being a free agent and getting to decide where you want to go and knowing you can be in one spot for a while, that's definitely comforting," Lee said. "Yeah, it's nice to know you're going to be here instead of bouncing around. With that too, looking back on it, I was glad to get the opportunity that I had from Cleveland to here, in '09, to Seattle, back to Texas. It was a good experience and a fun ride, I wouldn't change anything if I could and I'm glad the things have worked out they way they have and I'm happy to be here now."
On the season, Lee is 2-4 with a 3.84 ERA, but hasn't earned a victory since April 14. In his last start, May 16 at St. Louis, Lee walked six in 6 1/3 innings with four strikeouts in a 3-1 loss.
He said he needs to find some consistency with his control and is hopeful it comes Saturday night. He's facing a Rangers lineup that doesn't have 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton or Nelson Cruz, both on the DL with injuries.
Lee, who said Hamilton is the best player in baseball, didn't know Cruz was out of the lineup. Last season, Cruz hit 22 home runs in 108 games.
"Cruz isn't in the lineup either?" Lee said. "Yeah, I like that too. He reminded me a few times when I was there of how he swung the bat against me before. Yeah, those are two very good hitters so, them not in there is good. They've got a deep team too. The guys who are taking their spots are more than capable."
Calvin Watkins covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.