Lee not a fan of batting in five-hole
Slugger prefers to hit cleanup, but will do what's best for team
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Before the start of Spring Training, Astros manager Cecil Cooper projected the Opening Day lineup to include Miguel Tejada hitting third, Lance Berkman fourth and Carlos Lee fifth.
Cooper also warned anyone who asked that the lineup was a work in progress and could -- and probably would -- change a dozen times over the course of Spring Training.
The manager was true to his word. He's tried a slew of different scenarios, but on Wednesday in Lakeland, he went back to the basics, slotting Tejada, Berkman and Lee in the middle of the order for the Astros' game with the Tigers.
Lee, who hasn't hidden his dislike for the five-hole, playfully blamed his skipper for his hitless day at the plate.
"He blamed me for being 0-for-3 today, for hitting in the five-spot," Cooper said. "I have to go back to the drawing board now. I can't have him going [hitless]."
Lee prefers to hit fourth, and he's expressed as much to his manager. That said, Lee has no intentions to make this an issue in the clubhouse. He'll do what he's asked, even if it means hitting fifth.
"I'm trying to do what's best for the team," Lee said. "I don't like it, but you've got to do it. I work here. You're paid to go out there and do your job, regardless of what position you hit in the lineup. My job is to get RBIs, drive guys in. You've got to do it even if I'm hitting seventh or eighth."
Cooper said he has an idea of what he wants to do when the season starts but stopped short of revealing his plan.
"I just have to keep playing with it," Cooper said. "Either one of those guys could hit in the three-, four- or [five-spot]."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.