When Burrell knew Lee's MLB transition ‘wouldn't be a problem'

When Burrell knew Lee's MLB transition ‘wouldn't be a problem' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The Giants' biggest offseason acquisition has yet to play a single MLB game, but that doesn't appear to be a major concern for the coaching staff.

San Francisco signed Korean center fielder Jung Hoo Lee to a six-year, $113 million contract this winter, and so far in camp, the 25-year-old is quickly putting concerns about his transition to rest.

New Giants hitting coach Pat Burrell joined KNBR 680's "Murph & Markus" from Scottsdale Stadium on Friday, where he was asked about Lee's progress in camp and admitted that his initial concerns about the young star's transition were put to rest once he saw him in the cage.

"I'm no different than you guys, you have concerns," Burrell said. "In my opinion, the first day when I saw him move in the cage I said 'This isn't going to be a problem.' It's not going to be a problem. He may adjust, but his game is such a contact-based game, he's going to put the ball in play. He may have a little adjustment with the higher velocities, but he's such a good mover ... he just hasn't faced it, and until you do you don't know. As good of a player and athlete as he is, it'll be like anything else. It's just the next tier for him.

"I know we like him because he puts the ball in play, but he's got a little extra in there, too. If he wants to go out to (Charro Lodge in right field at Scottsdale Stadium) he can go there too. We don't want to encourage anything, but he can get it out there."

Lee already has formed relationships with plenty of his new Giants teammates, including fellow outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, who will play next to Lee in right field this season and told KNBR that he's taken it upon himself to learn some Korean.

"Fantastic. I'm a big fan," Yastrzemski said of Lee. "I've been trying to work on one Korean word each day. The most important thing I was thinking about was I was asking him how to say basically like 'relax' or 'easy! easy!' like if he's running toward the wall or whatever and he gave me 'Shwibta.' It means 'easy! easy!' If he's like going toward the wall and he needs to play it off the wall it's like 'easy! easy!' like give yourself a second. So that's my Korean lesson of the day for you."

Lee has an infectious personality that resonates with his new teammates, who are motivated to make him feel comfortable and welcomed as he begins his new career in a different country.

"I think Farhan [Zaidi] put it best in saying we've got to try and make him comfortable," Yastrzemski added. "Maybe [Bob Melvin] said it too. They both spoke on (how) there's going to be an adjustment period but as long as he's comfortable in the clubhouse, doing his work, on the field, making him feel welcome. Because he's a part of this team like anybody else. He's full of life, he's fun and he really wants to be around the guys, which I think is so important. He wants to get to know his teammates, he wants to go out and get dinner with guys and just be around as much as he can. To be able to experience that sort of enthusiasm to be here is great."

While there might be initial Korean-to-English, English-to-Spanish or Korean-to-Spanish language barriers, Yastrzemski is confident there's one common dialect everyone on the Giants understands.

"Baseball's the common language," Yastrzemski added. "We all understand baseball and that's the best part about it and the more you get to play with someone the more familiar you get with their range, where they like to play, how they like to do things. So honestly I think the best thing is just getting out there and playing together. I've actually been watching him a lot, the way that he works in the outfield and he is so smooth and it's a thing of beauty to watch.

"I'm learning things from him by watching, I don't necessarily need to talk. I'm paying attention to his reps when we're hitting BP and he's shagging so I'm getting a feel for his range, whether there's going to be a ball in the gap where my thought turns into how do I help him versus how do I have to go get this ball. So it's going to be an adjustment, but I think he's going to be a spark plug for us."

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast