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Mariners' Lee 'most prepared I've ever been'

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dae-Ho Lee, the big Korean first baseman attempting to win a job in his first Major League camp with the Mariners, corrected earlier reports that he'd lost 50 pounds this offseason. Lee, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, said Thursday that he's dropped 15 pounds.

But Lee definitely remains a big presence at the Mariners' facility, where many are wondering if the slugging prowess he displayed in Japan and Korea in previous years can carry over to the big leagues.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dae-Ho Lee, the big Korean first baseman attempting to win a job in his first Major League camp with the Mariners, corrected earlier reports that he'd lost 50 pounds this offseason. Lee, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, said Thursday that he's dropped 15 pounds.

But Lee definitely remains a big presence at the Mariners' facility, where many are wondering if the slugging prowess he displayed in Japan and Korea in previous years can carry over to the big leagues.

"This is a dream come true to come to the Major Leagues," Lee said through an interpreter after the Mariners' first full-squad workout. "This is the last stop for me in baseball."

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Lee indeed has lost some weight while preparing to compete for a backup first-base job with Seattle, which is looking for a right-handed platoon partner to Adam Lind. The Mariners also have Jesus Montero and Gaby Sanchez battling for that spot.

"I've been playing the last 14 years [in Korea and Japan] and I think this is the most prepared I've ever been," Lee said.

The Mariners are intrigued after Lee agreed to a Minor League deal that could pay up to $4 million in incentives if he makes the big league team. General manager Jerry Dipoto said the fact Lee turned down more guaranteed money to play in Korea or Japan leads him to believe the 33-year-old is motivated to prove he belongs.

"I know we got a guy with a storied history in Korea who went to Japan and became a star in that league and has opted to come here," said Dipoto. "And there's no reason to anticipate he'll be anything but as good as he can be, because this is where he wants to play."

Lee hit .282 with 31 home runs and 98 RBIs in 141 games for Fukuoka Softbank in Japan's Pacific League last year, but insists he's about more than just the long ball.

"I'm not really a big home run guy," he said. "I just try to put everything to center and control the ball. So when it's hit good, it goes for an automatic home run."

Lee didn't want to speculate on whether he'll opt out of his contract if he doesn't get added to the Major League roster for the start of the season.

"I'm thinking positive," he said. "Why ask a negative question? I don't even think about it."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.

Seattle Mariners, Dae-Ho Lee