ARLINGTON, Texas — Cliff Lee threw a bullpen session and took batting practice Sunday.
The Texas Rangers are getting ready for their first World Series, and the opener will be at San Francisco, where their ace left-hander will be pitching after an extended break and also taking swings in the National League park, where the designated hitter isn’t used.
Since the AL championship series didn’t stretch to a Game 7, Lee will be starting on eight days’ rest after striking out 13 Yankees and improving his post-season record to 7-0 with a 1.26 earned-run average in eight starts.
The bullpen session was his second since that eight-inning outing.
“Make the adjustment and push it back a couple of days,” Lee said. “It’s not that big of a deal.”
Lee starts a World Series opener for the second year in a row after winning Games 1 and 5 last year for Philadelphia against the Yankees.
“With Cliff Lee, I have no concerns about anything,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He’s not going to use nine days or 10 days for any reason why things may not go right, because in his mind it will always go right. And that’s why he is what he is.”
Last year, Lee had nine days off between his NL championship series start against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the series opener. He responded with a six-hitter, striking out 10 and walking none while allowing only an unearned run.
With the first two games in the NL city for the first time since 2001, usual DH Vladimir Guerrero likely will start only one of those games in the outfield.
“You can best believe we’ll figure out a way to get Vlad in there,” Washington said. “In the starting lineup some kind of way.”
Guerrero will be making his first Series appearance in 15 major league seasons. Asked whether he would be in right field for both those games, the manager said no. Washington said he hasn’t decided which game Guerrero will start.
Washington wouldn’t say which order he would start Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson in Games 2 and 3. Also undetermined is whether Tommy Hunter, 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA in two playoff appearances, will start Game 4 or be replaced in the rotation by Derek Holland.
The pitchers took BP during the team’s two-hour workout Sunday at Rangers Ballpark, where there were no remnants remaining on the field from the confetti and ginger ale bottles that were part of the celebration Friday night.
Lee is excited about the opportunity to hit.
“Obviously that’s the hardest thing in all sports, to hit a round ball with a round bat. … It’s the funnest part of the game as far as I’m concerned,” Lee said. “When you think of baseball, that’s what you think of, trying to get a hit. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy pitching, but as far as the straight challenge of it, hitting is the hardest thing and the most challenging. I enjoy that kind of stuff.”
A .132 hitter in his 68 regular-season at-bats in a career spent mostly in the American League, Lee was 1 for 3 in last year’s World Series. He hit .273 (3 for 11) the post-season for the Phillies.
More important for the Rangers, Lee has been an October ace on the mound winning all three of his starts during the playoffs. He’s struck out 67 and walked seven over 64 1-3 career post-season innings.
“I’m anxious to get it started,” Lee said. “I don’t feel any pressure. We’re fortunate to be in this spot — we’re one of two teams left playing. We should just go out there and have fun and play the game the way we can, and things are going to work out.”
NOTES: The Rangers fly to San Francisco on Monday, but won’t work out there until Tuesday. … Washington watched the ALCS-clinching Game 6 win over the Yankees twice. “When you’re in the moment, you don’t see things,” he said. “When you start to watch it, apart from it, you begin to see the beauty and joy that those guys went out there and played with.” But that’s the past now — “It’s time to get back to business and got to get my game face back on,” he added.