NH Fisher Cat Lee still striving for making it to the major leagues
NEW HAMPSHIRE Fisher Cats right-hander Mike Lee is accustomed to the lifestyle that comes with being a minor league baseball player. The 27-year-old began the 2014 season in Mobile, Ala., with the BayBears. By the end of June, Lee moved back to his home state of Nevada to join the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Since being drafted by the Red Sox in 2008, Lee has played everywhere from Portland, Maine, to Gwinnett, Ga., as a member of Boston, Atlanta, Arizona and now Toronto’s farm system.
“The minor leagues are crazy,” said Lee before the Fisher Cats’ game Tuesday night against the Harrisburg Senators. “I’ve bounced around from host families to hotels to apartments but the good news is this is my seventh season doing it so you get used to rolling with the punches.”
One of the newest Manchester residents, Lee began this month with the Aces before the Diamondbacks traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 9. He played his first game for the Fisher Cats that night against the Akron Rubberducks, throwing five scoreless innings in a 5-2 New Hampshire victory.
Lee’s initial success has continued throughout this month. He is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA, and was named this week’s Eastern League Player of the Week for his latest two starts where he allowed just one run on eight hits in a combined 14 innings.
“It’s huge,” Lee said of the honor. “Not just for selfish reasons but it’s good to come in and be able to settle in and have some success obviously. It puts me a step in the right direction. When you come in and struggle a little bit, it’s hard to come in and climb out of that hole.”
Lee is 10-7 overall this season with a 3.93 ERA and 87 strikeouts.
While he is still getting acclimated to his new team, Lee has already earned the respect of New Hampshire manager Bobby Meacham.
“I think he has fit right in,” Meacham said. “He’s demonstrative, he’s excited to be pitching. It’s almost like he doesn’t care which team he’s pitching for, he just wants to go out there and compete. That’s the best part about him from what I’ve seen so far in his two starts is he’s just competing out there.”
Meacham said that even though Lee has been in the minors his whole career, he coaches him just the same as he does his younger players.
“Their job is to go out there and compete and my job is to put them in the best position. It doesn’t matter if they’re young or old,” said the skipper. “You kind of instill in them the idea that they have to go out there and compete, be aggressive and see who’s better. That doesn’t change at any level.”
Lee is not scheduled to start during the Fisher Cats’ final homestand against the Harrisburg Senators and their season ends Sept. 1 on the road against New Britain. He will be a free agent afterwards and isn’t sure where he’ll play next, but his mindset about getting to The Show won’t change much heading into his eighth season.
“You know 90 percent is the same usually but there are definitely things that you try to work on and improve on each year that you think might give you an advantage that maybe you wouldn’t have had the year before,” Lee said.
Right-handed pitcher Scott Copeland was transferred to Triple-A Buffalo. Infielder Mike McDade was placed on DL. Catcher Jack Murphy was activated from the Temporary Inactive list.