Astros veteran slugger Carlos Lee arrived to Spring Training on Sunday with a strong sense of motivation and passion to succeed over the course of 2012, especially since he faces an uncertain future.
The 35-year-old Lee will officially wrap up the final season of a six-year, $100 million contract and do his very best to prove that he’s worth taking a look at on the free-agent market for 2013.
Lee admits he doesn’t know what the future holds.
“I want to stay healthy and go out there and do my best,” Lee said. “I don’t know if I’m going to keep playing or not past this season. I am going to do my job and try to help the team win games.”
Lee hit .275 with 18 home runs, 94 RBI, 38 doubles and a career-best four triples over 155 games for the Astros last season.
He has recorded at least 80 RBI in all 13 of his big league seasons.
Although Lee bounced back last season from a rough 2010 campaign, the veteran slugger continues to demonstrate a decline in bat speed and power, as he enters the twilight of his career.
The Astros expect Lee to be their Opening Day starter at first base and serve as a reliable run producer in the middle of the lineup.
If Lee wants to move forward in his major league career as a free agent past 2012, the responsibility falls on him to execute this season.
He’s aware of that.
“It’s going to depend a lot on my performance this year,” Lee said. “If I feel like I can keep going and help somebody to win, I’ll keep going. If I feel like I can still do it, then I will. If not, I will stay home.”
With Lee set to turn 36 this season, he’ll likely be seeking a role in 2013 as a designated hitter for a club in the American League.
He would like that to be with the Astros.
“It would be nice to stay and DH with the Astros,” Lee said. “Hopefully, I can hit the ball and get off to a good start this year.”
Lee hit .194 (21-for-108) in the month of April in 2011 before bouncing back with a .316 and .303 average over May and June.
He hit .285 following the All-Star break.
“I started the year slow,” Lee said. “I figured it out and worked really hard on my hitting. I had a good second half. I did what I’m capable of doing. Hopefully, it carries over and I start well this year.”
The Astros had their first scheduled full squad workout of the spring on Sunday at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla.
Lee has taken notice of the club’s energy.
“There’s really a lot of energy here,” Lee said. “You can see that Brad [Mills] is encouraging everybody to push it and keep going. It’s the right attitude to have. There will be a lot more to tell over the next three weeks or so. Right now, there is a lot of energy throughout practice. Everybody is really excited to be here.”
For the latest Astros news, click on the Subscribe button at the top of the page. Also, be sure to follow Houston Astros Examiner Stephen Goff on Facebook and Twitter, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.