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Lee returns to Cubs' lineup

Lee returns to Cubs' lineup

CHICAGO -- First baseman Derrek Lee was back in the Cubs' lineup Tuesday after missing one week because of neck spasms caused by a bulging disc.

"He's ready to go," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said of Lee, who was batting fourth in the first of a three-game set against the San Diego Padres.

Lee underwent an MRI exam, which showed very little change from one year ago.

"The main thing is you're not making something worse, so it looks like I can go out there and play and that's good news," Lee said.

He may have to sleep differently and invest in a new pillow, and Lee also has some different exercises to be more proactive.

"I'll try to stay on top of it," he said.

Taking a week off gave the inflammation time to calm down. Swinging a bat hasn't been a problem, but when his neck does lock up, it's painful.

"Hopefully, it's something that's behind me and we're good to go," Lee said.

The Cubs need Lee, especially with third baseman Aramis Ramirez out four to six weeks because of a shoulder injury. Lee was batting .209 with three homers and 15 RBIs.

"We've had a lot of injuries," Lee said. "We're going to be fine. We have a good team. It speaks a lot about this team that we've kept our heads above water with everything we've had going on. I look at it as a positive. Sometimes adversity can be good."

Lee doesn't plan on missing any more time.

"I'm going to be prepared to play every single game," he said.

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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