For the first time since May 16, first baseman Derrek Lee is expected back in the Orioles' lineup tonight. If he comes through batting practice fine, he will officially be back on the roster. He is listed on tonight's lineup card, batting fifth.
Lee spent some time in extended spring training in Sarasota and then played for Double-A Bowie last night, going 2-for-3 with two singles and a walk.
"I just felt like swinging was the big deal. If I could do that with full force, then I could probably do anything. We tested it out pretty good in Sarasota defensively. I just wanted to make sure I got four or five at-bats last night," Lee said a few moments ago in the Orioles' clubhouse.
When a reporter said the thought was that Lee might need to play more than one game with Bowie, Lee said that was not necessarily the plan.
"I never heard that. It was just go down there, see how you feel and try to get back. I felt good yesterday. I didn't feel any pain and woke up today fine and they brought me back today," he said.
Lee, who is batting .231 in 40 games with four homers, 14 RBIs and an OPS of .657, was out with a strained left oblique. He said he has been completely pain free for several days now.
"It's been a few days," Lee said. "They didn't allow me to do anything until I didn't feel it. I would say it's been five or six days. I'm excited. It's no fun sitting out and watching on TV. It's only the second time I was on the disabled list and it's not enjoyable."
At first, Lee seemed against going on the DL, but he now says he had a "tweener injury," one too long for the club to play shorthanded while he was out but still on the active roster.
Before he got hurt, Lee had a six-game hitting streak. He also drove in four runs over his last three games and had 10 RBIs over his past 14 contests.
Does he worry it could take a while to get his timing back?
"I don't know. I hope I step in there my first at bat and I'll be locked in. We'll see," Lee said.