Thursday, June 22, 2006

Derrek Lee, One of Baseball's Premier Players, Will Play for the Iowa Cubs At No-Name Ballpark This Weekend On a Rehab Assignment

Derrek Lee, the best player the Chicago Cubs have and one of the premier performers in all of baseball, will be playing at No-Name Ballpark in Des Moines this weekend.

Reluctantly, by the way.

Lee [right] hasn't played since fracturing his right wrist April 19. Although he's been taking batting practice and has been pushing to get back into the Cubs' lineup, he has agreed to a rehabilitation assignment with the Iowa Cubs.

The I-Cubs play Omaha tonight, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at No-Name Ballpark, and Lee could be there for a couple of nights -- maybe Saturday and Sunday, maybe Friday and Saturday.

Lee could return to the Chicago Cubs, who have been terrible without him and have fallen out of the National League Central race, when they start a homestand Monday against Milwaukee.

"You can't duplicate check swings and swings and misses," Lee told Chicago reporters after it became known he had accepted playing at Iowa for a couple of games. "I don't want to come back, maybe do something unexpected and come out of the game. So just go test it out and go from there.

"It's probably the same thing to do. I've been out for two months. Batting practice is a great test, but there's still no test like the game."

Lee didn't have to accept a rehab assignment, but the Cubs talked him into it. Manager Dusty Baker, who usually doesn't have a clue about anything, said it's necessary for Lee tgo get some at-bats in a real game before returning.

How many at-bats is up to him, but it's likely the rehab assignment wouldn't be for more than two or three games.

Lee had had said he didn't want to rehab in the minor leagues because he felt Chicago needed him. But the parent team's sorry state of affairs -- Chicago is 14 1/2 games behind first-place St. Louis -- changed his mind.

Under Baker's leadership, Chicago is one of the worst teams in the major leagues. So what else is new?