Dae Ho Lee Sweating Up the Mountain
One of my favorite players, the Orix Buffaloes Dae Ho (“Big Boy”) Lee, has reportedly reduced his body fat from 25% at the end of the 2012 season to 18% now. He gets up at 6:00 a.m. and spends two hours every morning climbing a mountain near his home (presumably in Korea, although there are plenty of mountains in both South Korea and Japan for the determined to climb).
Despite the reported reduction in body fat, Lee has only lost five pounds and still weighs in at a svelte 128 kg (282 lbs). Lee stands in at 6’4″; they don’t call him “Big Boy” for nothing.
In fairness to Lee, double-chin and all, his bulk doesn’t seem to be holding him back. There is no doubt about his ability as a hitter — his .846 OPS led the 30 NPB Pacific League qualifiers in 2012 — there is no offense in Japan since the introduction of new baseballs two years ago — after years and years as a top hitter in Korea’s KBO). However, he also spent 2012 manning 1B for the Buffaloes (what other team should Lee play for?), even though they use the DH in the Pacific League. In theory, at least, his defense at 1B can’t be that bad.
Lee is a major star, and he has the drive of a major star. I’m not surprised that he is working to improve his conditioning, so that he can reach new heights in years to come.
P.S. The Hiroshima Carp signed 26 year old Venezuelan pitcher Miguel Socolovich, who pitched poorly in 12 appearances for the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs in 2012, to a one-year contract for approximately $480,000. Socolovich had a 1.90 ERA in 52 relief innings for the AAA Norfolk Tides in 2012 and has struck out 145 batters in 126 innings at the AAA level during his professional career.
This is a great sign for a small revenue team like the Hiroshima Carp. If he can make the adjustment to pitching in Japan, he could be an excellent relief pitcher in Japan for years and years.