They waited a year and a half. On Saturday night, Cliff Lee returns.
After Lee last pitched for the Phillies in Game 5 of the 2009 World Series, the left-handed ace takes the mound for them once again in a 7:05 p.m. ET start against the Astros at Citizens Bank Park.
"It's been a long spring," Lee said. "We're ready for the regular season. Here it is. The weather could be nicer, but it's good to be here."
The low temperature on Saturday is expected to be 37 degrees, but that's what Lee signed up for when he surprised most of the league and agreed to a five-year, $120 million deal with Philadelphia this offseason. He passed on strong pursuits from the Rangers and Yankees.
Even from his first start, the expectations couldn't be higher for Lee, whose addition makes the Phillies' staff not just the best in the league, but one of the best in recent memory. He went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 regular-season starts for Philly in 2009, plus a 4-0 record in five postseason starts that year.
For the Astros, Wandy Rodriguez takes the ball after finishing his Grapefruit League season with two poor outings. Rodriguez's early outings in last year's regular season didn't go so well after a shaky spring -- he got off to a 3-10 start. But he rebounded with a terrific second half, going 8-2 with a 2.03 ERA in his final 18 starts, leading the league in ERA in that span.
"I'm excited for the season to start, and having the second game is good for me," Rodriguez said. "I'm hoping for a good outing, and I'm going try the best I can. I need to throw a quality start."
Like Lee, Rodriguez has World Series experience. He's the only remaining member of the 2005 Astros club that fell to the White Sox in that year's Fall Classic. Rodriguez has the pressure of a new contract to live up to, too, though not on par with Lee's; he signed a three-year, $34 million extension this offseason.
Source- MLB.com Gameday | MLB.com: Gameday