Carlos Lee ... the bull session

July 30, 2007
July 30, 2007

Table of Contents
July 30, 2007

SI Bonus Section: Golf Plus
  • Relax! It's not a prediction but rather the latest slogan adopted by baseball's most Series-starved franchise. For these Cubs, however, there is a creeping feeling that it may be more than that

Tough Stuff
  • Players live for it, fans love it, media celebrate it--and all bemoan its devastating consequences. The brutal collision of bodies is football's lifeblood, and the NFL's biggest concern


Carlos Lee ... the bull session

As told to David Sabino

THE ASTROS AREstruggling—but not so their big-ticket free agent acquisition. LeftfielderCarlos Lee signed up for six years and $100 million, then started doing what hedoes best: rake. His 80 RBIs were third best in the National League throughSunday. At 6'2" and 240 pounds, the Panama native isn't just a presence inthe batter's box. He's also a star in another Texas pastime. Meet baseball'sbest-hitting rancher.

This is an article from the July 30, 2007 issue

On his approach atthe plate in RBI situations
Hitting with runners in scoring position is different [than with nobody on]. Itry to hit the ball up the middle and cut down my swing to give myself a chanceto drive the guy in.

On the allure ofthe short (315 feet) leftfield porch at Minute Maid Park for a righthandedhitter
When I get to a ballpark, I try not to think about the walls. That can take meaway from my game [hitting to the gaps]. At the plate I'm trying to think aslittle as possible.

On his earliestbaseball memories
I went to games to watch my dad. He was a centerfielder and an All-Star [inAguadulce, Panama]. I was always a batboy. All of us kids would play on thefield when there was a break in the action. Growing up in Latin countries, youplay a lot of sports. Basketball, soccer, football, volleyball. I played themall.

On his ranchingpedigree
I've been working on a ranch since I was about five, in Aguadulce. Mygrandfather raised cattle, and it's how I spent time with him. On my ranch in[Wharton County,] Texas, I raise Brahman cattle. My three kids [Cassandra, 6;Karla, 4; and Karlos, 2] get really excited about the ranches, running around,spending the whole day with the animals.

On hisproperties
I have nine ranches in Panama with different types of stock. In the off-seasonI drive around and check them out pretty much every day. About half arecommercial cattle, and the others are for breeding. In Texas, I breed cattleand export the embryos down to Panama. You can't transport live animals out ofthe United States.

On co-owning Mr.V8 960/5, the Grand Champion bull at the 2006 International Brahman Show inHouston
When you win a livestock show, it's not about making money or winning a prize.It's about the recognition that says you've got some good cattle.

On why he's notconcerned about handling livestock and has never had a mishap
Brahman is a docile breed. It's not a crazy cattle. When I see a difficultsituation, I stay outside [the fence]. I play it smart.

On a favoritepastime
Calf roping [which he does only during the off-season]. It gets me away frombaseball. It gives me something that I can enjoy to escape from the game.

On what he'd bedoing if he hadn't become a baseball player
I always wanted to be an electrical engineer. I got involved with baseball andwent a different way, but I always liked science in school.