Mariners’ Lee suspended for 5 games

PEORIA, Ariz. — The Cliff Lee-Chris Snyder flap from Monday, when Lee threw a fastball near Snyder’s head and benches emptied, was supposed to be forgotten by the time the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks get together again Saturday.

Wednesday, it became something the Mariners must deal with all the way through the first week of the regular season, and possibly beyond.

Major League Baseball suspended Lee for five games, beginning with the opener on April 5, for what it said was an intentional pitch near Snyder’s head.

Lee declined to comment.

Manager Don Wakamatsu said he wasn’t surprised at the suspension.

“I assumed there would be some action on it, yeah,” he said.

General manager Jack Zduriencik said he was caught off-guard a little by the suspension.

“I’m sure Cliff’s going to appeal it and we’ll see where it takes us,” Zduriencik said. “I’m a little bit surprised. But at the end I don’t think we have a whole lot of comment on it. We’ll just let the process play itself out and we’ll see where it takes us. There is an appeal process and an opportunity for Cliff to state his case. He will do that and we will see what happens.”

Lee threw a pitch in the third inning Monday that sailed near Snyder’s head, and the Diamondbacks catcher moved toward the mound. Players from both teams left their dugouts and bullpens, although no punches were thrown.

In the first inning of that game, Lee attempted to back up the plate when he collided with Snyder, who was the on-deck hitter. The next time Snyder batted, in the third inning, Lee’s pitch sailed toward his head.

“I was trying to go inside and a couple got away from me,” Lee said after Monday’s game.

If the suspension is upheld, Lee would miss his first start of the season, which was expected to be the second game on April 6 at Oakland. Barring a reduction of the suspension after appeal, Lee’s first game back would be April 10 when the Mariners play at Texas.

“We’d like to get a definitive on this sooner than later so you can set the pitching,” Zduriencik said.

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