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Seattle Mariners

MLB drops suspension of M’s Cliff Lee after appeal

The Mariners are hoping Cliff Lee will be ready in May. (Associated Press)

SEATTLE — Major League Baseball has dropped its five-game suspension of Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee.

The team said today that MLB Vice President of Administration John McHale made the surprising decision after Lee’s appeal hearing last week. The league sided with the argument Lee and the Mariners’ head trainer made over two hours on a conference call — that difficulties in recovering from offseason foot surgery and a serious abdominal strain were sufficient evidence to rescind the suspension and fine.

The league disciplined the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner after he was ejected from a March 15 spring training game in Tucson against the Diamondbacks for throwing over the head of batter Chris Snyder.

Lee had strained his abdomen earlier in the game while colliding with Snyder, as the pitcher was backing up the plate on a scoring play.

Seattle placed its prized winter acquisition from Philadelphia on the 15-day disabled list April 4, retroactive to March 26. Lee is due to make a minor-league rehabilitation start on Sunday, and the Mariners had planned for him to make his Seattle debut on May 2 against Texas.

But that was before Tuesday’s ruling.

“We are pleased that Major League Baseball has come to this determination,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “We look forward to Cliff completing his injury rehabilitation and returning to the mound to compete.”

Lee was scheduled to throw in a second simulated game later Tuesday, hours before the Mariners host Baltimore. He says he feels no pain in the abdomen, which he has now strained three times since 2003.

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