A few pre-intrasquad notes

SARASOTA, Fla. - Derrek Lee looked impressive in the cage today during the club's first batting practice session inside Ed Smith Stadium. He won't play in the intrasquad game, but he took some of the most significant swings of the day.

"He's getting a little more comfortable turning it loose," manager Buck Showalter said.

Lee's surgically-repaired thumb doesn't restrict his throwing. He's been active in infield drills every morning.

Vladimir Guerrero put on another show, launching balls over the left field fence.

With the first exhibition game slated for tomorrow in Bradenton, Showalter noted that opening day roster decisions must be made regarding the rotation, the bullpen (two or three spots) and an extra infielder and outfielder.

"There's a little competition in each spot," he said.

Showalter repeated that a second utility infielder wouldn't need first base experience, since Luke Scott can back up Lee. And it's still possible that Showalter keeps an extra outfielder.

Showalter is looking at nine starters competing for five spots if Justin Duchscherer is healthy. He hasn't listed the names, but we're assuming that Ryan Drese is one of the long shots.

Showalter has mentioned Mitch Atkins, but the right-hander remains sidelined with a strained left oblique.

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