Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat — very few impact major-league baseball hitters have showcased the big, loose body of Korean slugger Dae-Ho Lee.
Given that, who does the big Mariners’ rookie first baseman remind folks of, past or present?
It still seems to be a head-scratcher.
Said Seattle manager Scott Servais, who has been around professional baseball for 28 years: “He is a unique player, with the physique and everything else that goes along with him — the personality. Nobody jumps out.”
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Said Baltimore manager Buck Showalter, who tried answering the question in his own head before the game Sunday four or five times before giving up: “Probably nobody. He doesn’t really remind me of anybody.”
Or how about Edgar Martinez, one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball history who now serves as the Mariners’ hitting coach?
“I don’t know,” Martinez said with a smile.
Let’s start with the right-handed Lee’s big leg kick in the batter’s box. Servais said he is similar to former Texas Ramgers star Juan Gonzalez in that regard.
“You don’t see a lot of (big hitters) do that,” Servais said.
What Martinez has noticed is that Lee uses the leg kick differently for various hitting situations.
“He makes adjustments,” Martinez said. “With certain strike (counts), sometimes it is higher, sometimes it is lower.”
In terms of his swing through the strike zone, Servais said Lee is well-schooled in the “Asian style of hitting.”
“They keep the bat through the zone for a very long time,” Servais said.
Servais said he and Martinez had many conversations about Lee throughout spring training.
“He liked the fact he has the ability to hit to right field,” Servais said. “If you do that as a right-handed hitter, and you have power, it usually leads to good things – it usually helps you control the strike zone.”
However Lee hits – whoever he resembles – what counts is the production. And the 34-year-old has hit 11 home runs in 160 at-bats this season for the Mariners.
“He is a unique player,” Seattle outfielder Seth Smith said, “and is fun to watch.”
FELIX TO TACOMA AFTER ALL-STAR BREAK
Ace pitcher Felix Hernandez (calf) threw a bullpen session Sunday, and is expected to throw a simulated game Wednesday in Houston, Servais said.
Hernandez likely will go on a rehabilitation assignment in Everett on July 10 – and down to Tacoma sometime after the All-Star Break.
That would mean he could pitch for the Rainiers sometimes in the four-game series against Colorado Springs (July 14-17) at Cheney Stadium.
First baseman Patrick Brady drove in catcher Marcus Littlewood with an RBI single in the bottom of the 12th inning Saturday, lifting Jackson (Double-A Southern League) to a 7-6 win over Mississippi.
Former Rainiers reliever Forrest Snow threw two-plus innings of scoreless relief in the win.
Littlewood has hit safely in six of his past seven games, hitting .385 during that span.
Outfielder Tyler O’Neill still leads the Southern League with his 42 RBI.
Jay Buhner did something 25 years ago – July 4, 1991 – he had never done before: Hit two home runs in the same game.
The Mariners’ power-hitting right-fielder hit both blasts off Greg Hibbard, driving in all three runs in Seattle’s 3-2 victory over Chicago, ending the team’s five-game skid.
The two home runs gave Buhner a team-leading 12 for the season, which would be a career-high at the time.
Lee (hand) was available for pinch-hitting duties Sunday. Servais joked he wanted Lee to rest his legs because he “has been running the bases a lot lately.” … Utility man Shawn O’Malley (ankle) had his right foot wrapped after fouling a baseball off his ankle Saturday night, and admitted it was “sore” Sunday. Servais said he was available to play, if needed. … Backup catcher Steve Clevenger was walking around the clubhouse Sunday with his right hand in a brace. He had a plate and six screws inserted after fracturing his hand Wednesday against Pittsburgh.
The Mariners finish off the first half of the season with a seven-game road trip before the All-Star Break. It begins Monday in Houston for three games, with left-hander Wade Miley (6-4, 5.58 earned run average) going for Seattle, and Lance McCullers (3-2, 3.91 ERA) pitching for the Astros. First pitch is at 11:10 a.m. PDT.
The game can be seen on Root Sports, and heard on 710-AM ESPN.