Wilson promotes 'It's Time!' DVD, talks Lee
Rangers southpaw hopeful prized free agent returns to Texas
NEW YORK -- The Rangers' winningest pitcher and left-hander from their 2010 American League Championship team was visiting here in New York on Friday morning.
Relax, Yankees fans. It was C.J. Wilson, who went 15-8 and threw nearly 230 innings including three rounds of the postseason. And he said if you are expecting to hear from Cliff Lee right now, then you had better be wearing real antlers.
"I know Cliff well enough to know that he's deer-hunting right now. That's where he wants to be and that's where he wants his mind to be," Wilson said during a visit to the MLB.com Studio, where he was promoting the Rangers' new "It's Time!" DVD available at the MLB.com Shop.
Lee is back home in Arkansas, and now in the position of choosing from among multiple long-term contract offers. The Rangers have offered a "menu" of contract terms, the Yankees have upped their offer to seven years, and the Nationals are reportedly a bidder.
"His agent's dealing with all the negotiations. His agent has to be the happiest guy in the world right now," Wilson said. "He gets to talk to Brian Cashman, gets to talk to Nolan Ryan. He's like, 'Six years? Seven years? Whattya got? Whattya got? These guys are giving me that thing, what are you giving me?'
"The way free agency works -- it's great for the game overall. It's a chance for a lot of fans to be activated. That's the one thing I never understood until recently, with Twitter. People were texting me all the time and saying, 'Please tell Cliff Lee to come back!' I mean, the guy is a grown man. He's 33, he's going to do what he wants to do."
Wilson said he thought it was a lock that Lee would be traded to the Yankees before the past July 31 Trade Deadline, and was taken aback when Rangers management told players Lee was coming to Arlington to join the rotation.
"To have Cliff Lee as a fifth starter in a way, yeah, that's pretty good," Wilson said with a laugh. "I felt instantly, straight-up, my first thought was, 'World Series, here we go.' It turned out to be that way. Hopefully we can bring him back."
Wilson has given Lee credit for helping his development into a workhorse this season, his first year since converting from short reliever. Wilson also makes no bones about his desire to have Lee back in the rotation.
"He sort of legitimized our rotation," Wilson said.
In case you are wondering whether Rangers general manager Jon Daniels would like Wilson to whisper in Lee's ear, Wilson said that is not happening.
"The team doesn't really involve the players too much," Wilson said. "Although a couple years ago, when we tried to sign [Barry] Zito, they brought me to dinner with Zito, and they were like, 'Hey, you guys are from California, talk about surfing.' I was like, 'All right. Cool, man.'
"The funny thing is, Barry and I have actually become friends over the last couple of years because of that.
"I'm just going to leave Cliff alone to do his own thing, because I'm not offering him anything, other than friendship. 'I'll be your sidekick, Cliff.'"
The "It's Time!" DVD releases on Tuesday, and you can pre-order it now for $17.99 at the MLB.com Shop. It is eligible for free two-day shipping, so this can be a perfect holiday gift for any Rangers fan. The video yearbook captures the 2010 Texas season from the first pitch of Spring Training to the club's first trip to the Fall Classic -- and includes interviews, exclusive footage, game action and highlights.