Cubs to bench Derek Lee?

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Derrek Lee has tailed off considerably after a hot start in April, forcing manager Lou Piniella to consider giving him a rare day off.

After hitting .371 in April with eight home runs and 23 RBIs, Lee is hitting .187 in May with two home runs and seven RBIs.

"Wednesday would be a wonderful time to give him a day off," Piniella said before Lee went 2-for-5 Monday night. "He'll have from Tuesday night until Friday night in Pittsburgh. Let's see how he swings the bat. ... Let's hope he gets hot. We need his bat."

Lee acknowledged he's not hitting the ball with authority, but scoffed at the suggestion he's a little worn out after starting every game thus far.

"There's no way," Lee said with a laugh. "It's May. I'm not worn out. I'm definitely not tired."

May traditionally has been Lee's worst month of the season. He came into 2008 with a .248 average in May, but usually starts heating up again when the calendar turns.

Lee's .320 career average in June makes it by far his best month.

Lee said he will respect Piniella's decision but reiterated he doesn't feel like a day off will help him.

"I don't make the lineup," Lee said. "I don't need a day off. I don't want a day off."

Piniella joked he would have hitting coach Gerald Perry tell Lee he's sitting on Wednesday instead of telling him himself. Piniella knows Lee will put up a fight to stay in the lineup, but he seems intent on giving him a rest for his own good.

"With [Micah] Hoffpauir here, I can do that," he said. "That's one of the advantages of having Micah up."

Lee came out to the ballpark early Monday for extra batting practice to "try to get that groove back" and had a pair of singles, including one for an RBI in the seventh inning. While Lee said he doesn't know why he's in a slump, he isn't concerned that it will last long.

"I don't feel great. I don't feel bad," he said. "I'm just not putting the right swing on certain pitches. I'm seeing the ball OK.

"You'd rather stay even. I've had a rough three weeks, but it's still a long season. It's not like I'm never going to get another hit. It's going to come back around.

"You'd rather it not be so prolonged. It has been a good three weeks now." ... 3028.story

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Teams pitching better and smarter against him???

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