"MV-Lee" Not Bothered by Hype

Derrek Lee is not predicting a Triple Crown. But he is going to give it his best shot.

The Cubs first baseman seemed poise to come back down to Earth when he went on a two-game tear in which he went 8-for-8.

"It was a pretty good stretch," Lee understated.

Lee is a notorious slow starter, but this year he was on fire right away.

The low-key Lee opened the month of June leading the National League in hitting (.363), homers (16) and RBIs (46).

As he stays above the pack in all three categories, more media members are finding their way to his locker for interviews. But he keeps a level head and doesn't feel the increased scrutiny will affect his game.

"It's part of the game -- you just play the game the same way," Lee said. "I'm just trying to enjoy every at-bat. Every time I get into the batter's box, I feel comfortable."

Heading into this season, Lee's best season for average was .282 with Florida in 2001. He had his best homer and RBI season (32-98) in his first year in Chicago in 2004.

The Cubs picked him up in a November 2003 trade with Florida for young first baseman Hee Seop Choi with the hopes that he could emerge as a big-time hitter.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Two seven-game streaks ended for the Cubs on Friday night.

The Cubs had a seven-game winning streak from May 27-June 2 snapped in a 6-2 road loss to San Diego.

They also had a seven-game streak snapped in which they recorded double-digit hits after notching eight against the Padres.

The Cubs opened the game with five hits in the first three innings off of San Diego starter Adam Eaton, and he settled down and he and Padres relievers shut the Cubs down.

The last Cubs team to record 10 or more hits in eight games was the 1952 squad from Aug. 25-31.

--RHP Sergio Mitre struggled for a second straight start, allowing five runs in 4 2/3 innings against San Diego on Friday night, although he probably could have gotten out of a four-run fifth inning unscored upon but SS Neifi Perez made a throwing error on a double-play attempt. Because the Cubs do not have many options, Mitre will probably stay in the rotation a little longer.

--LF Todd Hollandsworth picked up a rare start on Friday night because he was 9-for-18 lifetime against San Diego pitcher Adam Eaton. Hollandsworth continued his mastery over the Padres hurler by picking up two singles in his first two at-bats against Eaton.

--RHP Kerry Wood (shoulder inflammation) is eyeing a simulated game situation when the Cubs return for a home series against Toronto beginning on Monday. Wood made several bullpen sessions already.

--LHP John Koronka has been penciled in to make his second major league start against Toronto on Monday. Koronka pitched five innings in his debut against Los Angeles on Wednesday and picked up the victory. But he gave up three runs, six hits and three walks in the performance, which caused manager Dusty Baker to use his bullpen heavily in that game.

--LHP Glendon Rusch threw his third career shutout and 11th career complete game in a 5-0 victory over San Diego on Thursday. His gem helped give a rest to a bullpen that was taxed the night before when rookie John Koronka threw just five innings.

--3B Aramis Ramirez returned to the lineup on Thursday after missing a game with a sore right ankle.

--1B Derrek Lee has a little soreness in his knees but convinced manager Dusty Baker not to give him Thursday night off after he went 5-for-5 against Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

--RHP Jerome Williams isn't on as fast of a track back to the majors as some Cubs fans have hoped, in part because of fast food.

The 23-year-old Williams, who won 10 games with San Francisco in 2004, was traded to the Cubs over the weekend in a three-player deal that sent LaTroy Hawkins to the Giants. But he tips the scales at 260 pounds, and the Cubs might leave him in Triple-A Iowa until he gets in better shape.

"We have to keep him away from the fast food, that's all," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

If Williams can shape up soon, he could have a shot at joining the parent club. Thanks to injuries to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, the Cubs are using Sergio Mitre and John Koronka in the rotation, and both could lose their jobs if they are ineffective.

--3B Aramis Ramirez sat out a start against Los Angeles on Wednesday because of pain in his right ankle suffered on a defensive play on Tuesday night, but he was back in the lineup Thursday.

--RHP Jon Leicester was sent back down to Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday to make room on the roster for LHP John Koronka. Leicester, who was brought up to the parent squad for the third time of the season on Sunday, did not make an appearance during this brief stint. He will continue to build up innings as a starter at Iowa.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Consecutive games in which the Cubs had 10 or more hits in a seven-game winning streak last week.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That last bit of swelling is the toughest to get out. But they are milking that arm more than they milk Elsie the Cow." -- Cubs manager Dusty Baker on the status of pitcher Kerry Wood's strained shoulder.

ROSTER REPORT
ROTATION:

1. RHP Carlos Zambrano
2. RHP Greg Maddux
3. LHP Glendon Rusch
4. RHP Sergio Mitre
5. LHP John Koronka

BULLPEN:
RHP Ryan Dempster (closer)
RHP Joe Borowski
LHP Mike Remlinger
RHP Michael Wuertz
LHP Chad Bartosh
LHP Will Ohman
RHP Todd Wellemeyer
RHP Jon Leicester

LINEUP:
1. SS Neifi Perez
2. 2B Todd Walker
3. 1B Derrek Lee
4. 3B Aramis Ramirez
5. CF Corey Patterson
6. LF Todd Hollandsworth/Jason Dubois
7. RF Jeromy Burnitz
8. C Michael Barrett

RESERVES:
INF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr.
C Henry Blanco
INF/OF Jose Macias
INF Enrique Wilson

MEDICAL WATCH:
RHP Mark Prior, slight fracture in right elbow, 15-day DL.
RHP Kerry Wood, shoulder, 15-day DL.
RHP Chad Fox, elbow, 60-day DL.
SS Nomar Garciaparra, left groin, 15-day DL, out 2-3 months.
RHP Scott Williamson (Tommy John surgery in 2004) will not open the season with the club, but the Cubs think there is a chance he could be on the hill in August or September.


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