Lee is expected to make his debut with the NL East-leading Braves on Friday when they open a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Atlanta (71-50) acquired the veteran first baseman from Chicago on Wednesday for three minor league pitchers. Lee hit .298 with 179 homers and 574 RBIs over seven seasons with the Cubs and helped lead them to the playoffs in 2007 and 2008. He was batting .251 this season for Chicago, which is fifth in the NL Central.
“There hasn’t been a lot to cheer about,” Ryan Dempster(notes), who will start Friday for Chicago, told the Cubs’ official website, “but if there’s something to cheer about it will be Friday when Derrek Lee takes his first at-bat. I hope everybody in the stadium gives him a standing ovation for everything he’s given in the past seven years he’s been here. He deserves that at the very least.”
“The main thing is we’ve got six weeks to go and Atlanta’s in first place,” Lee said. “They’re playing great baseball. It just felt right. A chance to go to the postseason, it’s hard to pass up.”
The Braves open their series in Chicago after suffering a 6-2 loss to Washington on Thursday, snapping a four-game winning streak. Atlanta had its chances, but went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
After a 5-2 homestand, the Braves now head out on a six-game road trip, including three in Colorado. They have won six of their last seven series at Wrigley Field.
“We won both series; we have to say it was a real good homestand,” manager Bobby Cox said. “We can’t win every game. I keep thinking we can and … we’ve never done it yet.”
The Braves will face a Chicago team that has lost 18 of 22 and was outscored 20-9 by San Diego this week in a four-game sweep. The Cubs (50-72) lost 5-3 Thursday for their seventh straight defeat at home - their worst losing streak at Wrigley Field since a nine-game slide May 31-June 27, 2006.
While the Cubs have struggled overall, Dempster (11-8, 3.62 ERA) has won his last three starts while giving up three total earned runs. He allowed two in 6 2-3 innings of a 9-7 win over St. Louis on Sunday.
The right-hander is 2-9 with a 4.83 ERA in 27 appearances - 16 starts - against the Braves. He gave up one run and three hits in six innings of a 3-2 win over Atlanta on April 7.
The right-hander allowed one run in seven innings of a 13-1 win over the Dodgers on Sunday. He improved to 5-1 with a 2.91 ERA since coming off the disabled list with a hamstring injury last month.
“I’m feeling stronger every time I go out there,” he said.
Jurrjens is 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts against the Cubs.