Lee drops appeal, starts suspension

Lee drops appeal, starts suspension

CHICAGO -- Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee dropped his appeal of a five-game suspension Wednesday and began serving it immediately with the game against the San Francisco Giants.

Lee, who has hit two home runs in the last three games, had appealed the penalty, imposed upon him for his actions June 16. In that game, Lee was hit by a pitch by San Diego's Chris Young and said something to Young as he walked to first base. The two exchanged words, and Lee took exception to what the Padres pitcher said and swung at him. Lee missed, but the two tusseled and sparked a bench-clearing melee.

Young also had received a five-game suspension and had appealed it. But he dropped his appeal and timed his suspension perfectly. Young served it after his last start before the All-Star break and missed the first game of the second half, but didn't really miss a start.

"He was smart. He got around it," Lee said. "But I think Major League Baseball needs to look at that so the punishment is more equal."

However, Lee's time off comes at a good spot for him. He fouled a ball off his left ankle in the eighth inning Tuesday night. He could've played Wednesday, but he'll benefit from the rest. His ankle was a factor in his decision.

"A little bit," Lee said. "I probably could've played today but rather than limp through a couple games -- I have to serve it sometime. The feeling was I was going to get at the most one game reduced. Serve it now. We looked at Arizona and they didn't have many lefties. Daryle [Ward] can face them."

Ward, a left-handed hitter, will start at first for the Cubs, who play the Giants on Wednesday and Thursday, then play host to the Diamondbacks this weekend.

Lee did have a hearing scheduled for July 2 but that was postponed.

"You would've liked to have had a hearing," Lee said. "This way, it's just wait and see. And once you have the hearing, you have no choice -- who knows if you have that hearing and it falls before an important series and it might not work out in your favor."

Lee and Young were teammates on the National League All-Star team, the first time they were together since the incident at Wrigley Field.

"We said hello," Lee said.

The Cubs first baseman, who was hitting .337 with eight homers and 48 RBIs, wasn't sure what he was going to do during his suspension. He cannot be in the dugout and cannot be wearing Cubs gear.

"They told me I can't be in my uniform in the clubhouse," he said. "I have to be in my street clothes."

He could go to the press box, but it's not air-conditioned.

"I won't be there," Lee said, smiling.

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