Hurdle: Bring back Derrek Lee next season

Rob Biertempfel
| Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011

CHICAGO -- Manager Clint Hurdle already is lobbying to get Derrek Lee back in a Pirates uniform next season. However, neither Lee nor general manager Neal Huntington would indicate whether that's a possibility.

"I'm not going to close any doors," Lee said Friday. "But it's something I haven't even thought about. I want to get to the offseason first before I start talking about that kind of stuff."

Lee has been on the disabled list since Aug. 10 with a fractured left wrist, but he could be activated as soon as today.

"I'm just trying to get back on the field," he said. "I'll worry about everything else later."

With 326 career homers, Lee brings much-needed power to the lineup. A 15-year veteran who won a World Series ring in 2003 with the Florida Marlins, Lee also adds experience to the roster.

"Have you seen many teams that have won a lot without having at least one five-year guy in their lineup• I haven't," Hurdle said. "You need somebody who's been tested by fire, who can lend some quiet confidence and a voice of reason to the clubhouse when times are challenging."

Hurdle said Lee is a "perfect example" of that type of player.

Huntington was noncommittal when asked if adding veterans will be a priority in the offseason.

"We need to add players who can help us win games," Huntington said. "If that player has veteran status, that's a plus."

The Pirates acquired Lee, 35, on July 30 from Baltimore in exchange for minor league infielder Aaron Baker. The Pirates are paying $2.6 million of Lee's $7.25 million salary.

Lee homered twice in his first game with the Pirates but has just 18 at-bats with the team. He was hit on the wrist by a fastball from Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol on Aug. 3. Lee tried to play through the injury but wound up on the DL.

"I really enjoyed writing his name in the cleanup spot for (five) days," Hurdle said. "I look forward to revisiting that."

Lee hit in the cage Wednesday and took live batting practice yesterday. When he returns, Lee will get the bulk of the playing time at first base.

"We need to find out what Derrek's capable of and how he fits here," Hurdle said. "Is there a future (for Lee in Pittsburgh)• I don't know, and I don't think he knows."

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