The Cubs’ first baseman and clubhouse leader joined Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood on Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) Saturday morning. The interview began with a typical Spring Training question from Bruce Levine about what Derrek Lee thought about his team after a week of practice.
Levine’s second question sparked an honest answer from Derrek Lee, one that he did not mince words.
Lee was asked about the media recently trying to compare Marlon Byrd to Milton Bradley and the possible racial profiling associated with the comparison. Lee quickly called the comparison “ridiculous” and said “If it was a white guy who came over [to the Cubs] would he be [called] the anti-Milton Bradley?” Derrek Lee sounded frustrated as he continued answering the question.
“It makes no sense. Marlon’s a completely different guy. He wasn’t traded for Milton. He signed here as a free agent, so why even bring Milton Bradley’s name into it? It really makes no sense and it’s just, again, the media trying to make something out of nothing.”
According to Derrek Lee the problems Bradley had as well as the similar issues with Jacque Jones doesn’t “help in luring African-American players to the North Side.”
“It’s definitely not a positive when you’re looking at coming to Chicago. But I think overall, the positives outweigh the negatives and we’re baseball players, so we’re pretty good at kind of blocking out all pf that inside stuff and focusing on in between the lines. And in between the lines, Chicago is a good place to play.”
After Lee stated how he felt, the interview returned to questions centered on this year’s team and his future with the Cubs.
Derrek Lee thinks the Cubs’ defense will be better this season … especially up the middle. Lee described Kosuke Fukudome’s defense in center as “okay” but very good in right field. With Kosuke in right and Marlon Byrd in center, Lee sees an improvement in the Cubs’ outfield defense.
He explained that Marlon can cover a lot of ground and he fully expects Geovany Soto to be better this season.
After a rough season a year ago, Derrek Lee feels the Cubs have enough to win … at least on paper.
Derrek Lee is on the last year of his contract and was asked about staying with the Cubs after the year. Lee said he has enjoyed his time in Chicago and would like to finish his career as a Cub. He is not expecting to be approached by the Cubs about a contract extension.
Lee is focused on this year and isn’t thinking about his future. He wants to enjoy Spring Training, get ready for the season and do everything he can to help the Cubs win ballgames.