TACOMA — Seattle Mariners left-hander Cliff Lee tossed six shutout innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday.
Lee, working his way back after straining his abdomen during spring training, allowed three hits, struck out four and walked none against Salt Lake. He threw 68 pitches, 46 for strikes.
Lee retired the first nine batters he faced, then allowed two hits in the fourth inning. Peter Bourjos led off with a bunt single and Freddy Sandoval followed with a lazy fly ball that center fielder Ezequiel Carrera lost in the sun for a hit.
Lee then got Michael Ryan to ground into a double play and retired Terry Evans on a fly ball to center to end the inning.
Lee was scheduled to throw around 85 pitches and the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner with Cleveland said he had plenty left.
“I felt strong the whole time,” Lee said. “It’s really more of a precautionary-type deal to ease back into it but physically, I feel like I could keep going, for sure.
“Still, it’s better safe than sorry.”
Lee seemed to struggle a bit with his curveball, bouncing a handful in the dirt, but he said it was nothing out of the ordinary.
“It’s just one of those days where I wasn’t able to really kind of throw it for a strike,” he said. “I did throw a couple good ones down that I got swings and misses with. Other than that, fastball, changeup, cutter was all right there where I want it to be.”
Lee said he hasn’t felt any discomfort in his abdomen in over a month. He is scheduled to make his Mariners debut when Seattle hosts the Texas Rangers on Friday.
“I’m anxious,” he said. “I can’t speed up the clock. I’ve still got work to do between now and then, too. As a starting pitcher, you’re almost more focused on the days between — what you’ve got to do to prepare — and then when you go out there on your day it’s just go out there and have fun.”