After spurning his former team, the Rangers, and more money from another perennial playoff team, the Yankees, to sign a five-year, $120 million deal with the Phillies, Lee was seen as the final piece to a dream-like rotation that included fellow Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay and former postseason MVPs Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.
Lee made good on the preseason hype and hoopla when he took the mound in 2011, winning 17 games, throwing a National League-best six shutouts and finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting.
But throughout the winter, Lee couldn't escape the final start of an otherwise storybook season in his return to Philadelphia. In Game 2 of the NLDS against the Cardinals, Lee was spotted a 4-0 lead but couldn't hold onto it.
Lee gave up five runs on 12 hits in six innings in a 5-4 loss to the Cardinals, and five days later, the Phillies' season was over.
"It was on my mind," Lee said on Tuesday, when he made his spring debut in a two-inning stint against the Toronto Blue Jays in a 7-0 win. "It was the only chance I had to help the team win, and I gave up a 4-0 lead. It was frustrating. At the same time, you have to give the Cardinals credit. They never gave up, fought to the very end and peaked at the right time... and got a championship."
Lee, who competed in back-to-back World Series with the Phillies in 2009 and with Texas in 2010, remains focused on getting his first championship ring as a new season gets under way.
The 33-year-old Lee allowed two hits while striking out one and walking one in his first start of the spring Tuesday. After a 2011 season that saw him run off two separate 30-plus-inning scoreless streaks, including a 34-inning run that was the longest shutout streak by any Phillies pitcher in 100 years, Lee continues to treat spring training as the baby steps every pitcher needs to take in order to prep for the long season that awaits.
"There are always things you can work on, no matter what," Lee said. "It's a never-ending deal. You're never content with anything. It's impossible to go the full year without giving up a run, so there is always something you can do better no matter what. I don't think I'm ever going to be satisfied with anything, there is always room for improvement."
In the first week of spring training, Lee was briefly slowed with abdominal soreness. But he looked healthy and strong against the Blue Jays.
"He looked all right. He got them out, didn't he?" Phillies manager Charlie Manuel joked afterward. "Look at the scoreboard. We didn't give up nothing today."
|3 Years (7 Series)||7||3||2.52||11||11||3||82.0||66||27||23||2||10||89||0.927|