Tagged: Derrek Lee

8/20 D-Lee's debut

Derrek Lee parked in the same parking lot and walked down the same concourse he’s walked through for seven years. But instead of a short walk to the home clubhouse, he had to go a little further to the visitor’s side at Wrigley Field.

Lee is wearing No. 27 with the Braves now after being traded Wednesday for three Minor League pitchers. He was batting fourth in the lineup Friday against the Cubs. Does Lou PIniella have a good scouting report on the first baseman?

“I think we know him pretty well,” Piniella said. “It’s just a question of making good pitches to him. In the St. Louis series, he swung the bat as well as he did all year.”

Lee did receive a standing ovation from the Wrigley Field crowd before his first at-bat and he tipped his batting helmet. Then he flew out to left on the first pitch.

Rookie Tyler Colvin worked out at first base for the second day and if all goes well, he’ll make his debut there next week during the Cubs’ series against the Nationals. Xavier Nady started at first on Friday.

Lee signed autographs and acknowledged the fans, many still wearing his No. 25 jersey.

“It’ll be strange watching him come up to bat in an Atlanta uniform,” Piniella said. “We wish him well over there but not necessary in this series.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/19 Big Z update

Since returning to the rotation on Aug. 9, Carlos Zambrano is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA, giving up five earned runs over 16 2/3 innings. But he’s also walked 15 and given up 15 hits. Lou Piniella saw lots of positives.

“He’s got real good movement and he’s throwing a few more breaking balls and he’s using his split finger and a cut fastball,” Piniella said. “Basically, I think the velocity will come. One run over six innings, you can’t fault that at all. It was a good performance. If he gets his command a little early, he can go much deeper in the game.”

Said catcher Koyie Hill: “I thought he did a good job getting through six innings and had a chance to win. We’re facing one of the best pitchers in the National League and you go out there and give six innings — you’d classify that as effectively wild, but he didn’t get hurt and did a good job and had a chance to win the ballgame and we were winning the ballgame.”

Friday will be a special day for Big Z. He called it his “birthday in the big leagues.” On Aug. 20, 2001, Zambrano made his Major League debut in the second game of a doubleheader against the Brewers. Now, he’s the longest-tenured Cubs player.

“Whatever the team thinks is good for the team and we need for the team to be better and in a good position for next year is good for me,” he said when asked about the Derrek Lee trade.

What does Zambrano want to do?

“I don’t want to leave and I don’t think I will leave,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

8/19 Rookie scouting report

MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo followed the Minor League system, and gave this scouting report on the three pitchers acquired from the Braves for Derrek Lee:

* The best arm in the deal is Robinson Lopez. The 19-year-old
right-hander was signed out of the Dominican Republic in November 2008 and had a
stellar U.S. debut in 2009, going 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA, .229 batting average
against and 42 strikeouts (vs. just 12 walks) in 48 2/3 innings pitched. This
year with Class A Rome in the full-season South Atlantic league, Lopez has gone 3-8
with a 4.37 ERA, striking out 70 and walking 43 in 92 2/3 IP.

He’s fared better
as a reliever (2.61 ERA, .213 BAA, 27 K’s in 20 2/3 IP) than as a starter (4.88
ERA, .248 BAA, 43 K’s in 72 IP), but has the chance to be a starter. He’s got a
plus fastball that sits at 91-94 mph and will touch 96 mph. He’ll show an
occasional above-average curve as well. Young for the league, he got off to a
great start (2.88 ERA in the first half) but got tired in his first taste of
full-season ball.

* Jeffrey Lorick, a 20th-round pick out of the University of
Virginia last year, has been with Lopez on the Rome staff in his first full
season. Pitching mostly in relief (including one two-inning stint up a level),
the southpaw has gone 3-6 with a 2.24 ERA in 27 games, all but four in relief. In 52
1/3 total innings, he’s given up 43 hits (.224 BAA) while striking out 43 and
walking 21. He throws his fastball 88-92 mphwith an average to slightly
above-average curve. He has a changeup, but it’s below average.

His future is as
a reliever – he’s got a 1.87 ERA out of the Rome bullpen – and likely as a lefty
specialist. He’s held left-handed hitters to a .128 batting average in the South
Atlantic League, but he needs to improve his control to succeed at the higher

* Tyrelle Harris, at age 23, is the oldest of the trio. A senior sign out of the University of Tennessee, he’s pitched at three
levels in 2010, almost entirely in relief. He was assigned to the Cubs’ Double-A Tennessee team. With the Braves’ Double-A team, Harris had a
combined 2.90 ERA and six saves with a .210 BAA and 60 K’s in 49 2/3 IP.

not a ton of upside here, but he’s got a fastball in the 90-93 mph range, with a
fringe-average slider and changeup. He seems to be more of a value to provide
depth in an organization, a bullpen arm who could get called up in an

— Carrie Muskat

8/19 Colvin preps at 1st base

Before batting practice on Thursday, Tyler Colvin was asked if he had been secretly practicing at first base just in case he was needed there. Colvin did play first in high school and part time in college at Clemson.

“At night,” Colvin said with a straight face. “We’ve been practicing at midnight with no lights which makes it tougher.”

At that point, none of the Cubs coaching staff had said anything to him
about a possible switch from the outfield. That changed in minutes. Colvin was taking grounders at first on Thursday.

“I was a little bit surprised but I had enough people hinting toward it
the last week or so,” Colvin said. “I was a little surprised at the

With Derrek Lee gone to the Braves, the Cubs have a huge hole in the lineup and infield. Xavier Nady and Jeff Baker can handle the position for now but Colvin, a left-handed hitter, may get some time there in the final six weeks.

“He’ll get some ground balls over there and we’ll do that for a couple days and see how he feels and how he does,” Lou Piniella said. “If we can look at him over there, it gives the new people a head start on what the options are.”

Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell, who works with the infielders, only made a few suggestions during Colvin’s workout Thursday, saying the athletic rookie looked comfortable. How did Colvin feel?

“There’s a big difference between taking ground balls off a fungo and taking line drives from Ryan Howard,” he said. “That’s what I have to get used to.”

He used his first baseman’s glove from college which his grandfather had sent him earlier this year as well as a new Wilson A2000 model he was trying to break in. When Colvin did play the infield in college, he wasn’t the every day first baseman either. His best spot really is left field. That’s Alfonso Soriano’s space. Maybe Soriano could switch to first?

“Whoa,” Soriano said. “Never. I didn’t want to play second base and I played second base for five years.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/19 Fuld to join Cubs

Outfielder Sam Fuld joins the Cubs on Thursday, not Micah Hoffpauir because of a technicality. Hoffpauir was with the Cubs in San Francisco last Thursday to take Derrek Lee’s spot on the roster when Lee was on the bereavement list. Hoffpauir has to be in the Minors at least 10 days before he can be called back — unless Lee had been hurt. That means, the earliest Hoffpauir could join the Cubs is Monday in Washington against the Nationals.

— Carrie Muskat

8/18 Demp: Let's cheer for D-Lee

There’s one more thing Ryan Dempster wants Cubs fans to do on Friday when the team opens a three-game series against the Braves: Cheer for Derrek Lee.

“There hasn’t been a lot to cheer about,” Dempster said, “but if
there’s something to cheer about it will be Friday when Derrek Lee
takes his first at-bat. I hope everybody in the stadium gives him a
standing ovation for everything he’s given in the past seven years he’s
been here. He deserves that at the very least.”

That will be Lee’s first game in a Braves uniform. He was traded to the NL East leaders on Wednesday for two Minor League pitchers. It’s been tough to cheer this month. The Cubs are 4-13 in August after losing 5-1 on Wednesday to the Padres. The crowd of 33,267 at Wrigley was the lowest of the season, and smallest since April 16, 2007, when the Cubs drew 32,126. Four rookies started and six rookie pitchers appeared in the game, the first time in Major League history a team has used a half dozen prior to September call-ups.

“I think a lot of the fan base understands we have to find out about the people we have before we move forward,” GM Jim Hendry said.

Micah Hoffpauir will join the team Thursday from Triple-A Iowa. Expect more young players, even before the Sept. 1 call-up date. Lee appreciated his time in Chicago.

“I grew as a player, grew as a person,” Lee said. “I didn’t achieve the ultimate goal. Coming in here, it just seemed like we were going to win a championship so that part is disappointing. The rest of my experience is nothing but positive. My family enjoyed it here, Wrigley Field was great. It was just a great experience.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/18 Why D-Lee said "yes"

Derrek Lee rejected a potential trade to the Angels in late July but said yes to being traded to the Braves. Why?

“It just felt right,” Lee said. “The main thing is we have six weeks to go and Atlanta is in first place and they’re playing great baseball. I understand what Jim’s trying to do here so it just felt right. The chance to go to the postseason, it’s hard to pass up. They have a great organization and I’ve always respected Bobby [Cox]. The timing, it just didn’t seem right then. The Angels were close but not right there. Moving your family for that period of time — this time, it seemed right.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/18 Think D-Lee will be missed?

Here’s what teammate Ryan Dempster had to say about Derrek Lee:

“The way I look at it,” Dempster said, “is if I brought my son to the ballpark and I wanted him to look on the field and watch a guy play, I’d tell him to pay attention to Derrek Lee. I’ve been real lucky to be his teammate for 11 1/2 years and he does everything you can ask out of a teammate. He’s prepared every day and a tremendous leader. Aside from what he does on the field, he’s a better human being than he is a baseball player. The Atlanta Braves are lucky to get a guy like that and it’s unfortunate we have to lose a guy like that.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/18 Roster moves

The Cubs will call up Micah Hoffpauir from Triple-A Iowa to take Derrek Lee’s spot on the roster. The plan now is to have Hoffpauir and Xavier Nady share first base duties following the trade of Lee to the Braves for three Minor League pitchers.Hoffpauir was expected in Chicago Thursday.

— Carrie Muskat