Derrek Lee admitted today that the Orioles weren’t on his “radar” when the off-season began, mostly because he wanted to play on the West Coast and be closer to home. His agent, Mike Milchin, kept bringing up the Orioles, and they eventually agreed to a one-year deal, which became official this morning.
“I’d watch ‘SportsCenter,’ go on their Web site,” Lee said. “I saw the guys they were signing, how they finished up, and I looked at their lineup and I saw what Buck (Showalter) did over there. They’ve always had great fans. I warmed up to it, it grew on me and here I am. I’m looking forward to it.”
Lee didn’t speak to Showalter until after he agreed to terms. Showalter didn’t do any recruiting, but his reputation worked to the club’s advantage.
“Obviously, we all know Buck’s track record,” Lee said. “We know how professional Buck is, how much he wants to win.
“Buck is a prepared, organized, positive guy. I’m really excited to get a chance to play for him. I saw what he did with those guys last year. He really turned them around. I’m sure he’s excited to get a full year under his belt with them and I want to help him any way I can.”
Showalter didn’t tell Lee exactly where the veteran would hit in the lineup.
“He said somewhere in the middle of the order,” Lee said, “and I don’t really care.”
Lee brings an element of leadership to the clubhouse, which he finds important, though he’s admittedly a “laid back guy.”
“You’re not going to hear me yell and scream, but I will pull guys aside and let them know how the game should be played,” he said. “Kevin Gregg will do that, as well. You have to get guys pulling on the same rope and moving in the same direction. With all the talent, I don’t see why we can’t do special things this year.
“I’m a guy who shows up every day to work. Injuries are a part of it, but if you’re able to get out there, you get out there. I play hard and really try to lead by example and play the game the right way. That’s the way I was brought up.”
Lee is 7-for-25 with three doubles, a homer and three RBIs in six career games at Camden Yards. “I always hear what a great ballpark it is to hit,” he said.
His only American League experience has come in interleague play, so it’s limited.
“I’m sure there will be an adjustment,” he said. “You get into the middle relief guys and you don’t know who they are. But baseball is baseball. They’ve still got to throw it over that white plate and I’ve still got to hit it. I don’t expect it to be too huge of an adjustment.”
To see Part I of the interview, click here.