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Lee impressed with defense against Twins

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cliff Lee got some help defensively in Thursday's 10-6 loss to the Twins at Bright House Field.

He hopes there is more glove love to come once the games start to count April 1.

"As a pitcher, especially as a starting pitcher, defense is huge," said Lee, who allowed four hits, two runs, one walk, two home runs and struck out five in 3 2/3 innings. "You want guys to make every play."

Third baseman Michael Young made a couple nice plays Thursday. Domonic Brown cut off a ball in left-center field to hold Twins left fielder Wilkin Ramirez to a single in the second. Chase Utley later knocked down a ball in the infield to prevent Ramirez from scoring.

"The cut-off play by Domonic was a really good defensive play," Lee said. "Mike and Chase made a couple plays. That's what you want, especially for a guy that throws a bunch of strikes. You want guys back there making plays. You try to keep them on their toes and ready, and that's all good. I like it."

It is no secret the Phillies' defense took a step backward last season. The club thinks it improved in center field. Utley is known in the sabermetric world as one of the game's best defensive second basemen. Having him for an entire season should help. The jury is out on the corner outfielders and Young, who will be playing third base regularly for the first time since 2010, but there have been some good signs out there lately.

The Phillies committed 101 errors last season, which ranked 14th in baseball. Their .983 fielding percentage ranked 15th. It was the most errors they had committed and their lowest fielding percentage since 2006 -- the last season they failed to reach the postseason before last year.

"You want guys to make plays," Lee said. "This is the big leagues. If they don't, you've got to get the ball back and make another pitch. Hopefully they make the plays. I think everyone holds each other accountable as far as that goes. It's not like you're mad at him or he did it on purpose, but we expect each other to make fundamental, sound plays."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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