Long layoff between starts no big deal to Lee

Long layoff between starts no big deal to Lee

ARLINGTON -- If it seems like Cliff Lee is on cruise control when he pitches, it's probably because he's like that all of the time.

He was in that mode Sunday afternoon as the Rangers had their final workout before leaving Monday for San Francisco for the franchise's first World Series appearance.

Lee, who would have pitched in Saturday's Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees now prepares instead to start Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday. It means he'll have eight days between his last start on Oct. 18 in Game 3 of the ALCS and Wednesday's opener of the Fall Classic.

Not surprisingly, Lee was ho-hum about the longer layoff, saying it's no big deal. He threw a bullpen session on Sunday, his second one since beating the Yankees in Game 3.

"Obviously, I was preparing to potentially pitch yesterday," Lee said, "so I'd been on my routine like that. Now I'm obviously pitching the first game. I'm just going to make the adjustment and kind of push it back a couple of days. Yeah, it's not that big of a deal."

He's right to say it's no big deal, at least not for him. Last season, he had 10 days between his National League Championship Series start for Philadelphia against the Los Angeles Dodgers and his Game 1 start against the Yankees in the World Series.

After blanking the Dodgers on three hits for eight innings in Game 3 of the NLCS, Lee came back and threw a complete-game six-hitter against the eventual World Series champion Yankees. Lee didn't allow an earned run in a 6-1 victory over New York. He had 10 strikeouts and no walks in his first of two wins against the Yankees in the World Series (the Phillies lost the series in six games).

"With Cliff Lee, I have no concerns about anything," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Not pitching in nine or 10 days, he won't make any excuses if it doesn't go right. In his mind, it will always go right. That's why he is who he is."

Lee said he won't feel any extra pressure this time around in the World Series, and why would he, considering his 7-0 record in the postseason.

"I don't feel any more pressure," Lee said. "To me, we're fortunate to be in this spot. We're one of two teams left playing. We should go out there and have fun and play the way we can, and things are going to work out."

Lee said he'll stick to his game plan Wednesday, with some help from the several hours of video pitching coach Mike Maddux will watch on Giants hitters.

"The biggest adjustments are going to be on the fly," Lee said. "Making pitches, see how they swing at them and adjust from there."

Lee and his fellow pitchers took batting practice Sunday, and he had several nice cuts. He batted .184 with an RBI last season for the Phillies and Indians.

"Obviously that's the hardest thing in all of sports is to hit a round ball with a round bat," Lee said. "It's a good challenge. It's the most fun part of the game as far as I'm concerned. I'm going to go out there and have fun with it."

Lee was asked if he was excited about his Game 1 start Wednesday, and he had a deadpan response lined with sarcasm.

"No, it's going to be kind of boring," Lee said. "I'm kind of ready for it to be over."

He laughed and then offered up his real response.

"I'm excited, anxious to get it started," Lee said. "It's the Giants. Obviously, I was watching the game last night. They've got a good team. It's going to be a good challenge. I feel like if we pick up where we left off these last couple of series and play the game the way we have been playing, we'll be all right."

Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.