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Jjav829
03-03-2002, 09:54 AM
TUCSON, Ariz. - Carlos Lee knows what kind of player he can be, and he's honest enough to admit his performance last summer "embarrassed" him.

After a strong first half following a breakthrough season in 2000, Lee looked uncomfortable both at the plate and in the field during the final months of 2001, finishing with the lowest fielding percentage of any American League left fielder.

So instead of enjoying a relaxing off-season in his native Panama, Lee decided to go back to basics, playing winter ball to regain his confidence in the field.

"My first year I did OK there and the second year I played well, but last year it seemed like it was my first year out there," Lee said.

"As a player you have to have pride, and I have a lot of pride in myself.

"When you know you can do much better, you're hard on yourself. I embarrassed myself out there. I knew I was a lot better than that. That was the only reason I played winter ball, to get myself back on track. It seems like nothing went right last year."

Well, almost nothing. In the off-season, the Sox gave Lee a two-year, $6.9 million deal, avoiding arbitration. But their rumored pursuit of Pittsburgh outfielder Brian Giles made it appear as though Lee's future with the Sox was in jeopardy. When he didn't appear at SoxFest there were questions about whether the organization had soured on him.

But manager Jerry Manuel said Lee doesn't have to worry about his job if he plays and performs up to his capabilities.

"The only way Carlos will fight for his position is if he's fighting himself," Manuel said. "He is our left fielder."

A converted third baseman, Lee regressed defensively in the outfield last year, committing eight errors in 258 total chances.

So the Sox asked coach Gary Pettis to tutor Lee this spring, hoping he can become an adequate outfielder instead of a liability. Pettis and Manuel believe that Lee's problems can be corrected.

"Sometimes he sets up too late, which causes him to get a late break on the ball," Pettis said.

"Sometimes he puts his glove below his eyes. We want him to keep his glove above eye level so he doesn't have to move his head to go to his glove. We want his glove up so it's right in the line of view with his eyes. That's one of the things we're trying to correct right now.

"He's coming along pretty good. It only has been a few days, but hopefully by the end of the spring he'll be back to where he was before.

"He had some problems last year, but I don't think it's something that will be a continual thing, as long as he remembers a few little things."

A sore right thumb and leg injuries hindered Lee at the plate in the final two months. His average made a precipitous slide from the first half, when he batted .306. Lee hit only .236 in August and .216 in September/October to finish at .269, 32 points below his 2000 average.

"I don't want to blame the injuries, but it did affect me a little bit," Lee said.

"It's not the same when you don't have strong legs behind you. Your bat doesn't have the strength. It slowed me down a little. I wasn't able to push with my legs."

Now Lee enters 2002 back in the No. 7 hole, giving the Sox a certified power hitter near the bottom of the lineup. With Kenny Lofton on board, Jose Valentin takes Lee's old spot at No. 6, leaving Lee in a position he doesn't particularly like.

"There's nothing I can do about it," he said. "Just come to the ballpark and hope to see my name in the lineup somewhere. Regardless of where I hit, I still have to do my job."

Manuel said Lee shouldn't look at the move as a punishment, but as a chance to make an already strong lineup that much stronger. How many No. 7 hitters have averaged 24 home runs and 88 RBIs over the last two seasons?

"That's our best lineup," Manuel said. "It balances out well and it doesn't put any pressure on him early to produce. If we get something from him, we'll feel like that's a bonus. To have a guy of that potential batting seventh should mean you have a pretty decent lineup."

Manuel realizes Lee isn't thrilled about the move, so he's asking an old friend to talk to Lee about a similar experience early in his career.

"When we go up to play the Cubs [Tuesday], I'm going to get Moises Alou to speak to him," Manuel said. "When we got Moises in Florida from Montreal in '97, he batted down in the order after getting used to being a No. 3, 4, or 5 guy [with the Expos]. Moises drove in 100 runs for the first time in his career that year.

"I was telling Carlos that if this lineup functions like we think it will, he has a chance to have a real big year."

Paulwny
03-03-2002, 10:02 AM
Originally posted by Jjav829

" So the Sox asked coach Gary Pettis to tutor Lee this spring, hoping he can become an adequate outfielder instead of a liability. Pettis and Manuel believe that Lee's problems can be corrected. ."


I hope Pettis is a better teacher of defense then he is of base stealing.

CubKilla
03-03-2002, 12:23 PM
Originally posted by Paulwny


I hope Pettis is a better teacher of defense then he is of base stealing.

I'll :gulp: to that.

I've always been a supporter of Carlos (despite what RPS says to me about him) and hope that he can work through the defensive mistakes and have a 2002 much like 2000. Only less errors than he had in 2000 so RPS stops jocking me about him :D: .

Lisa
03-03-2002, 01:42 PM
I'll believe it when I see it.

Last year he was solid fundamentally in the field at the beginning of the season. But as the pressure of the season wore on, he wanted to do more and didn't seem to have the tools to go with it. The simple fact that they are still instructing him on where to hold his glove gives me pause. I know he played 3B in the minors, but for god's sake - if you're going to play major league outfield, know how to read the ball off the bat! As far as his performance at the plate, if he keeps utilizing the Sosa "hit a home run every time" method, pitchers will continue to tie him up. I think that he'll start strong again, but by mid-June he'll be crap again. Just in time for his value to go down. We should have traded him for Appier.

And ditto on the Pettis comment.

RichH55
03-05-2002, 12:27 PM
Originally posted by Lisa
I'll believe it when I see it.

Last year he was solid fundamentally in the field at the beginning of the season. But as the pressure of the season wore on, he wanted to do more and didn't seem to have the tools to go with it. The simple fact that they are still instructing him on where to hold his glove gives me pause. I know he played 3B in the minors, but for god's sake - if you're going to play major league outfield, know how to read the ball off the bat! As far as his performance at the plate, if he keeps utilizing the Sosa "hit a home run every time" method, pitchers will continue to tie him up. I think that he'll start strong again, but by mid-June he'll be crap again. Just in time for his value to go down. We should have traded him for Appier.

And ditto on the Pettis comment.


Lisa, I think we both agree that many of Carlos's struggles stem from him putting too much pressure on himself after Frank went down...but with Frank back and Carlos hitting 7th I think we should see both areas of his game improve. LF simply is not that important defensively, hence the reason the C. Lee's of the world tend to play there.....I think reserving ultimate judgement on C. Lee til after 2002 is the way to go