In a normal spring training, a former number one draft pick's first big league camp would be one of the highlights. But because this isn't a normal spring, there have been other stories that have taken precedence over Zach Lee.
But after getting sidelined early with a lat strain, Lee did get his first start last week and threw two scoreless innings. On Wednesday, Lee pitched another two scoreless innings before giving up four runs, three earned, in his final frame.
"I felt good, made a lot of good pitches." Lee said Wednesday. "I had one bad inning, the last inning, where things got away, left the ball up, and got a little tired."
Lee was the second Dodger pitcher to be on the mound during a request for a replay ruling this spring, when Didi Gregorius appeared to come off the bag at second base on a stolen base (replay confirmed Gregorius was safe). But not only did the distraction not affect Lee, it may have had a benefit.
"It wasn't too bad, wasn't really that long of a replay. If it lasted a little bit longer, I would have probably asked for a few warmup pitches," Lee explained. "It actually kind of helped me a little bit since that I was kind of out of the zone, rushing it a bit, gave me a little bit of a breather. It is adjusting thing that the pitchers, once [replay] has happened, have to adjust to."
This isfirst major league camp assignment and he has taken advantage of the chance.
"It has been a great experience; it is one of those things where you are trying to learn from anyone and everyone. Nuggets of knowledge where you are just trying to take the small ones in and work it into your game," Lee noted. "It is more observing, see how [major league pitchers] prepare and how they are mentally and get ready for games. I ask a question and see how they attack and they do things."
The coaching staff has taken notice of Lee both on and off the field.
"With Zach you see more of the old-style kid coming up, who is quiet in the clubhouse, going about his business. He's just working on his game all the time, asking a lot of questions, paying attention and learning. It's what you like about him," manager Don Mattingly said last week. "I just like his composure, and pretty much everything about him."
Another lesson that Lee smiled about when mentioning it was how players at this level hammer some pitches, "Balls up in the zone get hit, you really have to strive to get the ball down, really have to work your misses being down than up."
Lee said the good part about this is how "you get to know some of the guys more on a personal level, it is fun to interact with the guys everyday, it is one of those things when you get more comfortable with the guys in the clubhouse, you can focus more on the game rather the than distractions."
Lee said while getting comfortable in the clubhouse is great, it won't make his big league debut anymore easier.
"Anytime you get called up in the middle of the year, beginning of the year, whatever, you are going to have some nerves, some jitters," Lee said. "This experience will help contain those things a little but they will still be there when the time comes."
Lee could make his major league debut in 2014, though he won't make the opening day roster. However, he could find himself in Sydney, as the Dodgers plan to bring a pitcher not on the active roster to start the exhibition game against Team Australia on March 20.
As for Lee's next pitching assignment, he doesn't know where it will be, though he did nod affirmatively when asked if he had his passport.