Lee had to come out of Sunday's game against the Cardinals after the first inning because of neck spasms, and his status is day-to-day. He has a bulging disc, and the spasms first popped up in May 2007. At that time, he was sidelined for one week, and returned with a flourish, delivering a pinch-hit grand slam against the White Sox on May 19, 2007. Last year, he missed a couple games because of the cramps, but this season, he was feeling good, except for his .197 average.
"I had a good at-bat [in the first] and then have to come out," Lee said. "Sometimes things aren't rolling your way. What can you do?"
Lee's hit drove in Ryan Theriot, and was the fourth straight hit by the Cubs in the inning off Todd Wellemeyer. Lee bent over at second base to try and loosen it up but stayed in the game to finish the inning. He was pulled for Micah Hoffpauir, who hit a leadoff homer in the seventh in the Cubs' 10-3 win over the Cardinals.
"It locked up on me again," Lee said. "I think I slept funny and I woke up stiff. Running to second, it started to spasm on me."
Losing Lee meant the Cubs had just Koyie Hill and Joey Gathright on the bench for Sunday's game. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez is nursing a sore left calf and Milton Bradley has a strained groin. Ramirez may take batting practice on Monday if he's feeling better.
Will Lee go on the disabled list?
"We didn't 'DL' anybody else," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I don't think neck cramps will do it."
Piniella was laughing when he said that. The Cubs have opted not to place Ramirez, Bradley or Carlos Marmol (sprained knee) on the disabled list because the injuries don't need the 15 days to recover. That doesn't leave Piniella with many options.
"We'll play with Spring Training rules," Piniella quipped. "What do we have? I have a catcher and Gathright."
Lee wasn't sure how long he would be sidelined.
"They said it can [flare up] if you sleep funny or do something funny, it can aggravate it," Lee said. "I just have to let it calm down. It's nothing serious. It's one of those things where you can't move too well."
Piniella had tried to give Lee the day off on Sunday, but the first baseman didn't want it. He ended up getting treatment instead.
"When Derrek tells you he's hurt, he's hurt," Piniella said.
The Cubs almost had to scramble with a 20-man roster when Alfonso Soriano was hit in the head by a pitch from Wellemeyer with one out in the second. He stayed in the game. The Cubs are running out of players.
"We're at the point now [if Lee can't play] where we can't stay like this," Piniella said. "We have to figure out something."
The Cubs' hottest hitter in the Minor League system is Jake Fox, a first baseman/outfielder, who was batting .438 with nine home runs for Triple-A Iowa.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.