Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Hak-Ju Lee puts on a show for teammates
Posted Feb 27, 2012 by Roger Mooney
Updated Feb 27, 2012 at 03:48 PM
PORT CHARLOTTE There’s nothing like calling out the shy rookie during the team stretch on his second morning in camp and asking him to perform in front of the entire group.
That’s what James Shields did to Hak-Ju Lee this morning, when the veteran pitcher asked the 21-year-old kid to perform his famed pregame clubhouse dance in front of the other 58 players in camp.
“I wasn’t ready,” Lee said. “But everybody telling me, ‘Lee! Lee! Lee! Crack it!’ ”
So Lee cracked it, performing a dance mix that included a little Michael Jackson moon walking.
“He’s pretty good,” Shields said. “He pulled some Michael Jackson moves on us. I never seen anyone do the moon walk in spikes. I don’t even know if Michael Jackson could do that. I’m sure he could, but (Lee) did it pretty good. I’m pretty impressed with him getting put on the spot right there.”
Putting a rookie on the spot is part of the Rays spring tradition, more breaking the ice than hazing. They did it with David Price in 2008 when Price was asked to tell a joke. Price responded with an off color tale that used former closer Troy Percival as the punch line.
Shields heard about Lee’s pregame ritual and decided what better way to show the kid he’s accepted.
“It’s just kind of one of those things, I think it’s his first time in big league camp and we’re just trying to get him involved a little bit,” Shields said. “He’s been kind of shy over the last couple of days. They said during the season he’s one of the best teammates. He’s definitely has a good attitude. He’s kind of a character. We don’t get to see that so, I kind of let him show everybody his pregame ritual today.”
Lee, surprised at first, settled down and put on a show.
“It was fun. I like it,” he said.
Did his teammates like it?
“I don’t know,” he said. “They were laughing.”
Lee is also not shy about singing in public, as this youtube clip shows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0stmK3oCdg
Hearing about that, Shields had this to say: “Oh really. Thank you. We all had a good day today. Tomorrow he’s singing.”