Lee out of Thursday's Classic game

Cubs' Lee out of Thursday's Classic game

FULLERTON, Calif. -- Derrek Lee will have to miss Team USA's game on Thursday in the World Baseball Classic per doctor's orders, according to the Cubs.

Lee injured his left shoulder on Sunday making a diving catch in Team USA's 4-3 victory over Japan and was examined on Tuesday in Los Angeles by orthopedic specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum. Lee underwent an MRI arthrogram late Tuesday, and Yocum told Team USA officials and Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal that the first baseman must wait 48 hours after the test before he can be given a green light to play.

However, the 30-year-old, who missed only four games last season, still wants to play. After the Team USA workout early Wednesday, he told MLB.com that he was going to wait and see.

"We'll see tomorrow," said Lee. "The Cubs don't want me to play, but if I feel like I can play, I'm going to play. I'm not going to be stupid about it, but if I feel like I'm not hurting anything, I'm going to play."

But O'Neal talked to Lee twice after the workout on Wednesday, to confirm Yocum's orders and that the first baseman would have to sit. Team USA plays Mexico on Thursday at Angel Stadium and faces a must-win situation in order to advance to the semifinals in San Diego on Saturday.

"My understanding is that he needed to rest for 48 hours, and that includes the game," said Team USA manager Buck Martinez. "My inclination would be to play it conservatively, anyway. I don't want him to do anything against Mexico that would hamper him from playing on Saturday in San Diego. With Roger Clemens starting tomorrow, I'm very comfortable with the other guys I'll have on the field."

Lee's shoulder problem is similar to one he experienced last July, a problem that forced him to miss three games. He aggravated the shoulder when he dove to make a spectacular one-handed catch on a bunt in foul territory off the bat of Japan's Hitoshi Tamura in the eighth inning of Sunday's game. Lee crashed and rolled over on the shoulder as he made the play, and though trainers checked him at the time, he didn't come out of the game.

Lee is hopeful that should the U.S. make it to San Diego, he'll remain on the 30-man roster. Teams are allowed to replace injured players between rounds.

Lee has been a big factor in Team USA's success, and was batting .357 with three homers and eight RBIs. Ken Griffey Jr. also has hit three homers for Team USA and has a team-leading 10 RBIs.

O'Neal understands Lee's loyalty to Team USA.

"Derrek is really insistent on trying to play if they move on," said O'Neal. "We'll let him stay there and start some activity. We'll see what happens with where they are in the tournament. He's emphatic that if this thing clears up, he wants to stay with them and play."

Lee did not play in Monday's 7-3 loss to Korea. He talked to O'Neal after Tuesday's workout and said that the pain was still present in his shoulder and that it didn't feel "normal." That prompted the Cubs to call Yocum.

"We're just being real cautious with this," said O'Neal. "We're not taking any chances. We're concerned with our season and said, 'Let's get it looked at.' "

Lee is coming off a breakout season in which he batted .335 with 46 homers and 107 RBIs. He led the National League in batting, hits (199), doubles (50), extra-base hits (99) and slugging percentage (.662).

Carrie Muskat and Barry M. Bloom are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.