Tommy John Surgery Will Send Chen Lee Back to Disabled List to Begin 2013
During Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and examine the coaches and players that make up and are vying to be part of the 2013 Cleveland Indians—A Team With A New Direction. Today, we examine one of the players on the 40-man roster that is on the mend this spring.
By David Roberts
The Indians in recent years have turned out to have a knack for churning out talented, young relievers from the farm system. Vinnie Pestano set the gold standard for homegrown talent in the relief corps in his two years in Cleveland. Meanwhile last season Cody Allen made the jump from High-A Carolina to the big leagues where he made a splash of his own in relief.
Following in that same tradition Chen Lee appeared to be on the same meteoric rise as Pestano and Allen but an unfortunate setback in April 2012 has put a stunt in his growth but the youngster appears to be the kind of person who can come back. Lee was added to the Tribe’s 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, however, Tommy John surgery last season will keep Lee from competing for a roster spot this spring. He will begin the 2013 season on the disabled list. Lee’s surgery was only eight months ago and heis progressing through a mound program with hopes to pitch simulated games during extended Spring Training.
The 26-year-old Lee was a signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2008 out of Taiwan. Before his professional baseball experience, the young righty was a member of the 2008 Chinese Taipei Olympic Team where he logged nine innings to the tune of a 2.00 ERA. In 2009 before making his debut with the Kinston Indians, Lee made one start for Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic.
His 2009 campaign with the Kinston Indians was a solid first season effort as he posted a 4-6 record over 45 appearances out of the pen. He logged 83.1 innings to the tune of a 3.35 ERA with a 3.46 K/BB ratio. On the heels of a great first professional season, Lee took his skills to Double-A Akron and served up an even better campaign.
The 2010 season saw the young righty go 5-4 with a 3.22 ERA over a span of 72.2 innings. He appeared in 44 games and even upped his K/BB ratio to 3.72 and limited opponents to just a .219 batting average. It was in the 2011 season that Lee really launched himself in the organizational spotlight.
He opened the 2011 campaign with Akron but quickly earned a ticket to Triple-A Columbus. Between the two levels, Lee was stellar going 6-1 with a career best 2.40 ERA. Over 44 appearances the righty logged 71.1 innings with 99 strikeouts and 23 walks. Add to those numbers that he held opposing hitters to just a .210 batting average and Lee earned the award of MiLB Organization All-Star.
Going in the 2012 season, Lee looked to be a possible option for the Tribe pen at some point in the season and he got off to a good start in Columbus going 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in seven innings but then he was sidelined with pain in his arm. Unfortunately, in Lee’s case it required Tommy John surgery, which will likely keep him out until at least the middle of 2013.
The hope is when Lee returns to the diamond healthy he will continue to show the form on the mound he showed before the injury. The Tribe’s fully stocked pen luckily allows him to take his time with his recovery but the hope is when he is back he slots in as another arm in the waiting for the Indians’ vaunted bullpen.
Photo: Associated Press