Cliff Lee Feels More Like A Baseball Player in the National League

Cliff Lee Feels More Like A Baseball Player in the National League

Cliff Lee's June has been absolutely filthy on the mound. He finished the month with a 5-0 record, allowing only one earned run in 42 innings of work (0.21 ERA), but he's also contributed a great deal during his plate appearances.

He helped his own cause in the Phillies 5-0 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night by hitting the first sac-fly of his career in the fifth inning, good for his fifth RBI on the season.

After the game, Cliff talked about how much he enjoys trying to help his team win with a bat in his hands.

"I think it's fun," Lee said. "You feel more like a baseball player in the National League versus the American League. In the American League, you're a pitcher. Over here you've gotta pitch and hit, run the bases, feel like a baseball player. Anything you can do to help the team win you should take pride in it, you should take it serious and try to do the best you can. That's what I try to do with hitting. Like today, I got up to the plate with a runner on third with less than two outs. You gotta take advantage of those opportunities. I don't know how most guys look at it, but I'm trying to hit a sac-fly right there, and I did, so I feel gratification by doing that. It helps the team win, so it's important."

I don't believe Lee was taking a jab at anyone in particular in the AL, but Josh Beckett seemingly demonstrated Cliff's point earlier in the evening when the Red Sox pitcher failed to move a runner over via bunt and eventually ground into a double play. After Beckett chopped a ball to Jimmy Rollins, he gingerly jogged towards first base with the bat in his hands the entire way.

Cliff Lee, on the other hand, prides himself in giving it his all no matter the circumstance. Whether it be trying to beat out a grounder as he attempted to do late in Tuesday's win, or simply sprinting on and off the field between innings.

"I play to win today," Lee said.

And that's why Philadelphia loves him.

Jahlil Okafor trade watch: Bulls reportedly unwilling to trade first-round pick

Jahlil Okafor trade watch: Bulls reportedly unwilling to trade first-round pick

With the NBA trade deadline nearly upon us — 3 p.m. Thursday — here is the latest on Jahlil Okafor. (We'll update this with news on Okafor throughout the afternoon.)

• The Bulls are still pushing to acquire Okafor, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Chicago has been one of the rumored destinations for weeks — in fact, the Bulls were reported as a suitor for Okafor before the Pelicans, Blazers and Pacers.

• What's the hold-up? According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls "have shown no inclination to this point of including" their first-round pick, along with a player, which is what the Sixers have been seeking for Okafor.

Johnson notes that forward Nikola Mirotic is available. Mirotic, 26, is a restricted free agent after the season. With Ersan Ilyasova traded to Atlanta Wednesday night, perhaps the Sixers could look at Mirotic as a backup four to Dario Saric. 

Mirotic's value is in his outside shooting — he's a 6-foot-10 forward who made 39 percent of his threes last season. But his numbers have dipped across the board this season and he's shooting just 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from three.

• According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Okafor's preferred landing spot is Chicago, his hometown.

• Obviously, it's not up to Jah — the Sixers will go with whichever offer is best.

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

This isn't a big surprise, but Jason Peters will be back with the Eagles — big salary and all — for the 2017 season.

While the Eagles approached the veteran left tackle about his contract in January, Peters has not restructured his deal, according to a league source. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Thursday morning reported that Peters will be back next season on his normal contract. 

Yes, Peters is expensive in 2017. His base salary after hitting another Pro Bowl escalator written into his contract is up to $10.45 million for next season (plus a $250K workout bonus), which comes with a big cap hit of $11.7 million. That cap hit is the highest on the team, but not outlandish for a high-caliber left tackle. 

The Eagles could have very well cut Peters and moved on. It would have saved them significant cap space to use elsewhere. They just wouldn't have found any player more valuable to pay with that money. 

Peters, 35, is still their best option to protect Carson Wentz's blind side. He made his ninth Pro Bowl in 2016 after playing all 16 games. The team hasn't been shy about wanting him back and Peters toward the end of the season said he wanted to return for another year. 

"We certainly want to have him back," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said of Peters in early January.

“I love him. I want him on the team,” head coach Doug Pederson said with two games remaining this past season. “I don’t want him to go anywhere."

With Peters back, it means Lane Johnson's eventual trip to left tackle will be held off for another year. Eventually, he'll take over that spot … just not right now. 

During the season, Peters opened up about his future, saying he hopes Wentz can be the guy who finally gets him a Super Bowl ring (see story).