NEW YORK -- When the All-Star selections were announced last week, Cliff Lee was happy to hear his name called for the fourth time in his career.
But the Philadelphia Phillies pitcher was equally pleased to hear Cubs pitcher Travis Wood’s name ring out when the pitching staff for the National League All-Star team was announced.
For the past five or six years now, the pitchers have worked out together every offseason at home in Arkansas. Little baseball is discussed but the two have developed a close friendship as they push each other as hard as possible to get ready for the upcoming season. On Monday, Lee said he’s proud how their hard work has paid off and played a role in the development of Wood, who is a first-time All-Star.
“I’m as excited he made it as I am for myself,” Lee said. “It definitely feels good to have aided inthat. I’m not trying to take credit. But just to see him workout and do everything he’s done and develop into being in the big leagues and being an All-Star is awesome.”
Wood -- who is 6-6 with a 2.79 ERA in 19 starts this season -- lives in Little Rock, Ark. while Lee lives about 10 minutes away in nearby Benton.
Both men share the same agent. At the agent’s suggestion, Wood and Lee paired up as workout partners.
The routine is pretty simple, Wood said, and aside from playing catch, baseball is rarely discussed in their sessions. The pair, who also occasionally hunts together and hang out, see no reason to change their practice.
“Mainly it’s just a good workout routine and what that means is to really hit it hard because we really don’t talk a whole lot of baseball,” Wood said. “We’re there to just push one another back and forth and it’s been working out so far.”
Wood admits he has plenty to learn from Lee, a 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner.
The two are both left-handed and Wood would love nothing better than to match the longevity of Lee’s career. But Wood figures he can do his research on his own time and prefers to keep the baseball discussions to a minimum.
“It’s the offseason,” Wood said. “Neither one of us wants to talk a whole lot of baseball. If we see something on ESPN we’ll talk about baseball. But as far as trying to pick his brain and what he likes to do, I just kind of take that upon myself to figure it out. I watch him, so I can figure it out that way but I don’t typically ask.”