Cliff Lee on Trade: "I Didn’t Believe It"

Pitcher thought he would spend his career in Philly

By Vince Lattanzio
|  Friday, Dec 18, 2009  |  Updated 2:21 AM PDT
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Lee: "I Thought I Was Going to Spend the Rest of My Career"

Former Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee talks about his sudden trade to the Seattle Mariners.
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Former Phillies ace Cliff Lee says he was "shocked" to learn that he was being traded away as the team pined for Roy Halladay.

In a telephone interview with members of the Seattle press Thursday night, Lee voiced disappointment with his unpopular trade to the left coast.

"At first, I didn't believe it because I thought we were working out an extension with the Phillies," he said. "I thought I was going to spend the rest of my career there."

Lee said he first heard rumors of the trade to the Seattle Mariners from his wife as he hunted deer on his property in Arkansas. He then called his agent, who was assured by the Phillies that he was still safe. The next day, Amaro called to deliver the news.

"It goes to show that this is a business and you never know what's gonna happen until you have a full no-trade clause," Lee said.

The lefty pitcher, who carried the team through a shaky 2009 World Series against the New York Yankees, said he was "looking forward to making another run" for the World Championship with the Phils.

"I wanted to play there, I wanted to stay there," he said. "I loved all the guys there, the organization, they did a lot of things right."

When the deal was announced Wednesday, Phillies G.M. Ruben Amaro, Jr. said the move to trade Lee for Halladay and three minor league players was simply a baseball decision.

“It’s never easy trading a player of Cliff’s caliber, but we felt it was the right move to make at this time,” Amaro said Wednesday. “We’ve acquired three players that we think have big upsides and will strengthen our player development system.”

The Phillies made Lee an offer about a week before the trade. He said most of his "disbelief" stems from the fact that the trade happened the day he made a counter offer. "There was not enough dialogue," he said. "We were in contract negotiations."

But the former Cleveland Indian, who came to Philly two days before the '09 trade deadline, says he can't blame the team for doing anything to get Cy Young-winning Halladay.

"They had the opportunity to get the best pitcher in baseball...I think anybody that really knows baseball would, if you had one pitcher to build around, it'd probably be [Halladay]."

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