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Lee wins NL Player of Month/Week

Lee wins NL Player of Month/Week

CHICAGO -- What a month for Derrek Lee. What a week. What an honor.

Lee, the Chicago Cubs first baseman, won both the National League Player of the Month Award for April, and the NL Player of the Week Award for April 25-May 1.

Lee, who led the NL with a .419 batting average and 28 RBIs in April, and Florida's Dontrelle Willis, who was 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA, were voted the NL Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively.

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Lee also led the league with seven home runs, 36 hits, a .767 slugging percentage, and was tied for the league lead with 20 runs and nine doubles. He added four stolen bases and compiled a .490 on-base percentage, collecting at least one hit in 20 of his 23 games played.

"That's one of the best months I've ever seen," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

"It was definitely a good April," Lee said. "I've never had a month like that. It was one of those things where everything worked out. It seemed like every ball I didn't hit hard fell in."

Lee established franchise records in batting average, RBIs and total bases for the month of April. This was his first National League Player of the Month Award.

Cubs hitting coach Gene Clines credited Lee's improved footwork with his hot start.

"The main thing is if he has his feet in order with his timing and rhythm, that's when it clicks for him," Clines said last week. "I mentioned it to him in Spring Training. I said, 'For some reason in the past you've been a second-half type of guy.'"

Not anymore. What's even more impressive is that Lee has traditionally been a slow starter, and had a career .228 average in April before this season. Lee can't keep up this pace an entire season, can he?

"It's working for him now," Clines said. "He's in a zone. Let him go. He's so locked in now, just let him go."

Other players who received votes for April included Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell, who hit .301 with five home runs and 21 RBIs; Colorado's Clint Barmes, who hit .410 with four home runs and 14 RBIs; St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols, who hit .322 with six home runs and 19 RBIs; Dodgers infielder Jeff Kent, who hit .333 with six home runs and 18 RBIs; and Mets outfielder Cliff Floyd, who hit .366 with six home runs and 21 RBIs.

Lee will each receive a specially designed trophy for the award. He also will receive a Tourneau luxury Swiss timepiece for the NL Player of the Week honor.

From April 25-May 1, Lee led the league with four home runs and 13 RBIs. Bank of America, the official bank of Major League Baseball, is the presenting sponsor of the National League and American League Player of the Week Awards.

Last week, Lee led the NL with 24 total bases, a 1.091 slugging percentage, and was tied for the league lead with eight runs scored. In six games, he batted .455 (10-for-22) with two doubles, a .857 on-base percentage and one stolen base. Lee had at least one hit in all six games, and on April 27 against Cincinnati, he was 4-for-4 with two home runs and six RBIs.

Other nominees this past week included Lee's teammate, Jeromy Burnitz, who batted .409 with two home runs and seven RBIs.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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