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Lee's protection should benefit McCutchen

Lee's protection should benefit McCutchen

Lee's protection should benefit McCutchen
CHICAGO -- With one swing on Saturday, Derrek Lee served up quite a reminder of the instant impact his bat can have in the middle of the Pirates' order. That impact, though, doesn't end with Lee's ability to change a game with one swing.

In fact, Andrew McCutchen could be the biggest benefactor of Lee's presence.

With Lee hitting cleanup, manager Clint Hurdle has the flexibility to slot McCutchen into the No. 3 hole, which is a spot that Hurdle has said he feels could be the ideal long-term fit for McCutchen. The problem with hitting McCutchen third earlier in the year was that there was often a lack of protection behind him.

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McCutchen should now reap the benefits of Lee's presence for the rest of this month -- and potentially longer. The Pirates have indicated an interest in trying to re-sign Lee this offseason.

"Having a guy like that hitting behind you, they're going to want to throw to [me] because they don't want to have me on base and then have to pitch to a guy like Derrek Lee with what he's capable of doing," McCutchen said. "It helps them not to pitch around me."

After missing almost a month with a fractured left wrist, Lee returned from the disabled list on Saturday, and finished with three hits and five RBIs in the Pirates' 7-5 win. His two-out, ninth-inning grand slam was Lee's seventh grand slam at Wrigley Field. That ranks Lee second in the ballpark's history behind Ernie Banks, who hit eight grand slams.

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