Baseball roundup: Cleveland’s Lee claims Cy Young Award
NEW YORK ó Cliff Lee went from the minor leagues to the pinnacle of pitching in one fantastic year. Now, he’s eager to repeat his award-winning performance.
Lee took the American League Cy Young Award in a runaway Thursday, capping a dominant comeback season that made him the second consecutive Cleveland Indians lefty to earn the coveted prize.
“It feels a lot better than it felt in ’07,” Lee said. “I want to win this Cy Young again. I want to make a habit of it.”
Demoted to the minors last year, Lee went a major league-best 22-3 this season with a 2.54 ERA. He received 24 of 28 first-place votes and 132 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Toronto ace Roy Halladay was a distant runner-up with four first-place votes and 71 points. Record-setting closer Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels finished third with 32 points.
Lee became the third Cleveland pitcher to win a Cy Young, following Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry in 1972 and CC Sabathia last year.
An 18-game winner in 2005, Lee was hurt in spring training last year and struggled so badly he was sent to the minors. He returned to the big leagues and finished 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA, then was left off Cleveland’s postseason roster.
“I was kind of pushed to the side,” Lee said. “That was tough.”
The Indians asked him to visit pitching coach Carl Willis in North Carolina last offseason, and Lee said their chat helped.
YANKEES-WHITE SOX TRADE
NEW YORK ó The New York Yankees started their offseason makeover by acquiring Nick Swisher from the Chicago White Sox.
Swisher, who can play first base and all three outfield spots, was obtained for pitching prospect Jeff Marquez and infielder Wilson Betemit. The teams also swapped a pair of minor league right-handers as part of the deal, with Chicago receiving Jhonny Nunez and New York getting Kaneoka Texeira.
Swisher, who turns 28 on Nov. 25, hit just .219 with 24 homers and 69 RBIs last season.
“He’s selective,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “He’s got power.”
Still, Swisher’s .332 on-base percentage was the lowest of his career.
“We felt it was a risk worth taking,” Cashman said.
n NEW YORK ó Left-hander Damaso Marte is remaining with the Yankees after agreeing to a $12 million, three-year deal that includes a club option for 2012.
MINNEAPOLIS ó Minnesota has signed manager Ron Gardenhire to a two-year contract extension through the 2011 season.
PHOENIX ó Randy Johnson filed for free agency after failing to reach a contract agreement to return to Arizona.
The 45-year-old lefty is five wins shy of 300 and “hopes to find a team where he can continue to pitch at a high level and contribute to another world championship,” agents Barry Meister and Alan Nero said in a statement.
CHICAGO ó Chicago acquired reliever Kevin Gregg in a trade with the Florida Marlins, and the move that appears to end Kerry Wood’s career with the Cubs.
General manager Jim Hendry said Wood was deserving of a three- or four-year deal and the Cubs are not prepared to offer him one. In addition to Gregg, who was the Marlins’ closer until the final month last season, Chicago also has a talented setup man in Carlos Marmol.
“We’re just in a situation ó and Kerry fully understands ó that length of deal for the kind of salary that he could command right now is not our first priority,” Hendry said.
Gregg was acquired for minor league pitcher Jose Ceda.
Bothered by a sore left knee, Gregg finished 7-8 with a 3.41 ERA and 29 saves last season. His nine blown saves tied for most in the majors.
Hendry said Gregg had knee surgery, will begin throwing in January and will be ready for spring training.
PHILLIESPHILADELPHIA ó Former Baltimore Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo joined the Phillies’ coaching staff, but he wasn’t immediately assigned a specific position. Steve Smith wasn’t retained as third-base coach, and Jimy Williams chose not to return as bench coach.
HOUSTON ó Lawyers for Roger Clemens’ former trainer say they need more time to obtain a statement from a federal prosecutor who compelled Brian McNamee to speak with former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
McNamee’s attorneys, Richard Emery and Earl Ward, filed a motion Wednesday in U.S. District Court asking for an extension to Dec. 18 to produce a formal response from Matthew Parrella, who in his role as an assistant U.S. attorney interviewed McNamee.
Mitchell, a Boston Red Sox director, was hired by baseball commissioner Bud Selig to run the investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Mitchell based part of his final report on statements by McNamee, who later claimed the government told him he would be prosecuted if he didn’t speak with Mitchell. Clemens sued McNamee in January, claiming his former trainer’s statements were defamatory.
Emery said Thursday that since McNamee did not volunteer information about Clemens, but rather was “coerced” into giving it under threat of prosecution, his statements are lawfully “immune from any defamation.”
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