Mariners' Lee goes deep for first MLB hit

Mariners' Lee goes deep for first MLB hit

SEATTLE -- Dae-Ho Lee didn't have a lot to say after slugging his first Major League home run in Friday's 3-2 loss for the Mariners, but the big man from Korea let his bat speak loudly with a soaring blast to center field in the fifth inning of Seattle's home opener.

Lee, who had hit 323 home runs in 14 seasons in Korea and Japan, unloaded on A's starter Eric Surkamp to get Seattle on the board with its first run of the season at Safeco Field.

"I'm very happy, but our team lost," Lee said through interpreter D.J. Park. "So the excitement is not there."

But the Mariners were happy to see the 6-foot-4, 260-pound first baseman deliver a big blow after he'd endured an up-and-down spring while adjusting to Major League pitching after signing a Minor League deal as a non-roster invitee, hoping to show what he can do in the big leagues after a distinguished career in Asia.

"That's a long way," first-year manager Scott Servais said of Lee's blast to the deepest part of Safeco. "He crushed the ball. He also had a very good at-bat his next at-bat, when he flew out deep to center, which is great to see.

"He's a big-time player, he just hasn't been in this country very much. The power is there, it was nice to see tonight. I'm sure it was a big confidence builder for him and everybody on our club being around him."

While some were wondering if Lee could handle MLB pitching, the big man apparently wasn't among that group despite going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts prior to his first hit.

"I swing with confidence," he said.

Lee made the 25-man roster as a platoon partner with Adam Lind and will be used primarily against left-handed starters. He thus was in the lineup against Surkamp, though Servais left him in against right-handed reliever John Axford in the seventh.

He flew out to center fielder Billy Burns a step in front of the warning track in that at-bat, though Lind pinch-hit for him in the ninth against Ryan Madson and struck out to end the game.

Lee, who hit 31 homers for Softbank in Japan's Pacific League last year, became just the seventh player in Mariners history whose first Major League hit was a home run. He joined Dave Henderson (1981), Orlando Mercado ('82), Jamie Nelson ('83), Alvin Davis ('84), Greg Dobbs ('04) and Kenji Johjima ('06).

Henderson, the Mariners' original first-round Draft choice, was honored in a pregame ceremony that included a moment of silence for his death in January.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.