MESA, Ariz. _ First baseman Derrek Lee did a couple rounds with reporters today. While chowing down on a post-workout sandwich, he told us he would not take part in the World Baseball Classic. Nor will third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
"I wanted to do it, I really wanted to do it," Lee said. "But they told me, basically, I wasn't going to play."
Lee said Boston's Kevin Youkilis is ahead of him on the Team USA roster, so D-Lee will be in Cubs camp all the way through.
On an even brighter note, Lee said it's almost 100 percent certain that his daughter, Jada, does not suffer from LCA, the congenital eye disease that causes blindness. Lee said Jada's vision began to stabilize last year and that perhaps she suffers from an auto-immune disorder. Needless to say, that's a big relief for Lee.
D-Lee also said he'd give new teammate Milton Bradley the benefit of the doubt. Bradley has had some well-documented on-field outbursts in recent years.
"We've all seen his episodes on SportsCenter," Lee said. "But when you think of them, it's like two or three of them, which his not that (many). He has a clean slate coming in here. So far, he seems like a great guy. We'll let him show us his true character."
Jeff Stevens, one of the relievers the Cubs got from Cleveland in the Mark DeRosa deal, snapped off a few nasty curveballs during his throwing session today. Hey, I thought you weren't supposed to be able to throw breaking balls in the desert air of Arizona.
Speaking of DeRosa, Lee said the Cubs would miss his presence in the clubhouse, along with that of Kerry Wood.
"It's not easy to recoup," Lee said of what DeRosa and Wood brought. "These guys were core guys in the clubhouse and on the field, so it's not easily replaced. We replaced the talent, I think, but it will take us a little bit to jell together and kind of mesh the way Woody and DeRo did in the clubhouse."
Hey, don't look now, but Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano are the only two Cubs who've been with the team the whole way since the 2003 division-title season. Catcher Paul Bako is here, but he was gone for several years.
"We're the oldest here now," Ramirez said, referring to length of service. "Hopefully, we'll get a championship before we leave here, too. We're the last from that '03 playoff."