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It appears Cliff Lee won’t attend 2009 reunion


Cliff Lee helped pitch the Phillies to the World Series in 2009. (John Hefti/Icon Sportswire)

10 years ago today, the Philadelphia Phillies acquired reigning American League Young Award winner Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians, kicking off a magical three-month first run in Philadelphia that culminated in a second consecutive appearance in the World Series. Next Sunday (Aug. 4), the Phillies plan to honor the 10-year anniversary of the team that won the most recent National League pennant in franchise history. At least at this juncture, it does appear that Lee plans to attend.

Monday, the Phillies released the list of former coaches, players and Wall of Famers scheduled to attend Alumni Weekend, which the 2009 ceremony will be a part of. As Matt Rappa of SportsTalkPhilly noticed, Lee isn’t on that list.

Known to be very private, Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA and three complete games in 12 regular season starts after being acquired in July of 2009. The postseason, however, was really where he endeared himself to Phillies fans. Lee tossed complete games in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Colorado Rockies and Game 1 of the World Series against the New York Yankees. In total, Lee went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in five starts during the 2009 postseason, making it one of the best individual postseason runs a pitcher has ever had.

Phillies Nation reaches out to Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, a few times a year about potentially catching up with Lee, one of the more beloved Phillies in the last 25 years. There’s normally no answer. Phillies Nation attempted to touch base with Braunecker earlier this month to confirm if Lee planned to attend the ceremony and potentially set up some time to talk with Lee about the 2009 season. Our request for comment wasn’t returned. Since his career concluded – rather unceremoniously – in 2014, the only time a request for comment from Lee has been returned his when his former teammate Roy Halladay tragically passed away in November of 2017. Halladay’s public eulogy, which took place at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida, is the only time Lee’s been seen since his career concluded.

Lee, of course, is entitled to be as private as he wants. Still, there was some thought he would make an appearance at this event. Then-Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. did trade Lee to the Seattle Mariners in December of 2009, with the Phillies landing Halladay in what was billed as a corresponding move from the Toronto Blue Jays. Had that sudden trade been the end of Lee’s time in Philadelphia, it may have made sense if he harbored some ill will. But he returned to the Phillies ahead of the 2011 season on a five-year/$120 free-agent million deal.

Below is the full list of 2009-connected players and coaches that the Phillies say they expect to me at the event:

MANAGER & COACHES:

Charlie Manuel

Mick Billmeyer

Rich Dubee

Pete Mackanin

Sam Perlozzo

Milt Thompson

PLAYERS:

Paul Bako

Joe Blanton

Eric Bruntlett

Clay Condrey

Greg Dobbs

Chad Durbin

Scott Eyre

Pedro Feliz

Ben Francisco

Ryan Howard

Raúl Ibañez

Kyle Kendrick

Brad Lidge

Pedro Martínez

John Mayberry Jr.

Jamie Moyer

Brett Myers

Jimmy Rollins

Matt Stairs

Jack Taschner

Chase Utley

Shane Victorino

Tyler Walker

Jayson Werth

Catcher Carlos Ruiz, who will certainly be a Wall of Famer at some point in future, isn’t on the list, which comes as somewhat of a surprise. It’s likely just a scheduling conflict, though, because Ruiz was at Citizens Bank Park last August as he memorably unveiled Halladay’s Wall of Fame plaque.

This will mark the first time since their respective careers concluded that the trio of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, all of whom have been honored with their own retirement nights this summer, will be back at the stadium together in red pinstripes.

It’s also somewhat notable that Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez plans to attend the invite. Martinez didn’t sign with the Phillies until July of 2009, but went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine regular season starts with the Phillies. He also made starts for the Phillies in the 2009 NLCS and World Series, in what turned out to be the final season of his career. Still, Martinez’s time with the Phillies is an afterthought in one of the most brilliant careers a starting pitcher has ever had. But perhaps working with Rollins on TBS has kept him close enough to his 2009 teammates to make attending this event a worthwhile trip.

Among the Phillies Wall of Famers scheduled to take part in Alumni Weekend, Pat Burrell, inducted in 2015, is absent from the list of expected guests. After recording the hit that turned out to be the winning run in the 2008 World Series, the Phillies elected not to re-sign Burrell following a nine-season stint with the club. Instead, Raul Ibanez – who is expected to be in Philadelphia for the event – was signed to a three-year/$31.5 million deal with the Phillies ahead of the 2009 season and was an All-Star that season. It’s unclear if Burrell isn’t attending the weekend because of that connection or a busy schedule. Burrell is a special assignment scout for the San Francisco Giants, so it’s possible he has a conflicting event this upcoming weekend.

Burrell’s long-time teammate, Bobby Abreu, will be inducted onto the Wall of Fame before Saturday evening’s 7:05 p.m. tilt against the Chicago White Sox. The Phillies plan to honor the 2009 team ahead of Sunday afternoon’s 1:05 p.m. game against the White Sox.

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