Friday was Lee's Cactus League debut, delayed a bit by a lat strain early in camp. He allowed two hits, including a leadoff double by Shin-Soo Choo on "a 2-1 fastball over the middle that you don't want to throw," per Lee. But he recovered with three ground balls in the first inning to strand Choo, and tacked on a scoreless second inning with a strikeout to end his game.
"I really beared down on some tough pitches, especially after the leadoff double," Lee said. "I got myself out of a jam there, which was really a confidence boost going into the second inning."
Lee threw a simulated inning in the bullpen after leaving the game. Manager Don Mattingly was impressed.
"Zach's just one of those guys who looks like he belongs, in the clubhouse, around the field. He does everything well," said Mattingly. "He's got a clean delivery, we feel like he'll be able to throw the ball where he wants. I just like his composure, and pretty much everything about him."
A good impression isn't all Lee had sights on accomplishing this spring, in his first big league camp. Lee wanted to break camp as part of the big league rotation, a long shot that was all but ended with his injury early in camp.
"Any time you set a goal, you want to set it high. If you set it low, you'll probably meet it and get content with it," Lee said. "If I throw the ball like I'm capable of, I don't think I'm that far away."
"I'm somewhat like [Greinke]. I don't know if I take it to the extent that he does. Growing up, the way I looked at pitching, I was always more a cerebral and analytical person," Lee explained. "I really thought more about game-planning, kind of like what Maddux did back in the day where he was able to pinpoint with location rather than overpowering people."
Mattingly sees Lee as a throwback to an earlier time.
"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," Mattingly said. "You see him around the clubhouse, the way he handles himself, getting after his work. He does everything pretty well. He takes fielding his position seriously, holding runners, all the little things you don't get a lot of attention for."
Another example of Lee's traditional style is his uniform. He wears traditional stirrups, a seemingly lost tradition in baseball.
"I just like the look. I was always a pants up guy, I never really liked to have my pants down. The stirrups were just kind of a tribute to the old school. I prefer them over the regular socks," Lee noted. "I think the regular socks bring more of a soccer mentality rather than a baseball mentality."
Hanley Ramirez hit his first home run of the spring, a two-run shot off Martin Perez in the first inning. "Hanley is slowly getting his timing," Mattingly said.
Yasiel Puig wasn't in the lineup on Friday, and he won't be in either lineup on Saturday, as he had to tend to a personal matter, an excused absence by the team. Puig is expected back in camp, and in the lineup on Sunday.
- Dodgers 2013 second-round pick Tom Windle, a left-handed pitcher out of the University of Minneosta, made his first big league spring training appearance, pitching two scoreless innings to end the game, with one hit and one walk allowed, and one strikeout. He picked up a save, the third different Dodgers pitcher to record one this spring (Matt Magill has two!).
The Dodgers have their first of two consecutive day-night split-squad Saturdays. Tomorrow's afternoon game is a rematch with the Rangers, with Paul Maholm starting in Surprise against Tanner Scheppers. In the nightcap, Josh Beckett starts against the Mariners at Camelback Ranch while Blake Beavan pitches for Seattle.
Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 7, 2014
Home run: Hanley Ramirez (1)
WP - Zach Lee (1-0): 2 IP, 2 hits, 1 strikeout
LP - Martin Perez (0-1): 3 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Tom Windle (1): 2 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout