Lee Completes Turnaround, Reaches Star Status

Cleveland's Cliff Lee credits experience and adjustments with helping turn his career around.
Cleveland's Cliff Lee credits experience and adjustments with helping turn his career around. (By Mark Duncan -- Associated Press)
Monday, July 14, 2008

Indians LHP Cliff Lee is expected to start for the American League in tomorrow night's All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, an incredible turnaround for a pitcher who was demoted to the minors last year.

"I haven't heard who is starting and it isn't something I can control, so I don't worry about it," Lee said yesterday. "When I was a kid, I watched games on TV and dreamed of pitching in the majors.

"I watched the All-Star Game and had the same dream."

Lee, 29, is 12-2 with a 2.31 ERA after compiling a 0.67 ERA during his first seven starts. He was 18-5 in 2005 but went 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA last year, when he was optioned to the minors for more than a month.

"Last year taught me a lot," Lee said. "I can't put my finger on it other than to just say I'm more experienced. To stick in the big leagues, you have to make adjustments.

"Everybody else is figuring you out, watching video, and learning what you do. You have to stay ahead of the curve, adjust, and make them readjust again."

Indians pitching coach Carl Willis said Lee has turned what used to be a fault into a strength -- his stubbornness.

"He's always had a lot of confidence in his abilities, and with good reason," Willis said. "Sometimes, that got in his way because he felt he was going to throw his fastball, no matter the count, no matter the situation."

· MORNEAU JOINS DERBY: Twins 1B Justin Morneau was selected for the All-Star Home Run Derby, completing the eight-man field for tonight's contest at Yankee Stadium. He joins Rays rookie 3B Evan Longoria, Rangers OF Josh Hamilton and Indians OF Grady Sizemore from the AL.

The NL derby lineup has Astros OF Lance Berkman, Brewers OF Ryan Braun, Marlins 2B Dan Uggla and Phillies 2B Chase Utley.

· FUTURE STARS: Taiwanese OF Che-Hsuan Lin, a 19-year-old Red Sox prospect, hit a two-run homer and nine World team pitchers combined on a three-hitter for a 3-0 win over the United States in the Futures Game.

The 10th annual young-talent showcase kicked off a much-hyped all-star farewell to Yankee Stadium.

Seven Red Sox prospects made the AL squad, managed by Boston's Terry Francona.

More than 40 Futures Game alumni have become big league all-stars, and sometimes it doesn't take long. Last year's contest included 2008 all-stars Longoria and Geovany Soto, now the starting catcher for the Cubs.

Matt LaPorta capped a hectic week by playing first base for the United States.

The touted slugger, traded from the Brewers to the Indians last Monday in the CC Sabathia deal, said his luggage was lost when he flew to Ohio the day after the trade. Two days later, his grandfather died.

"Really, it's been a roller-coaster week," he said.

LaPorta went 1 for 3 with a single, a walk and a strikeout, but was thrilled to play at Yankee Stadium in its final season.

LaPorta's father was in attendance, along with an uncle and one of his friends.

-- From News Services

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