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Lee could be Rays' future shortstop

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Hak-Ju Lee, 22, came to the Rays in the trade that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs. A gifted fielder, Lee spent all of 2012 at Double-A Montgomery, and he is set to be the shortstop at Triple-A Durham this season.

Though he seems to be equipped with the tools to be a Major League shortstop in the field, he needs some work on his offense. He hit .261 with four home runs and 37 RBIs at Montgomery last season, but he struck out 102 times in 475 at-bats.

"I know I need to work on my offense," Lee said. "I need more power, and I need to make more contact -- hit line drives."

In that vein, Lee added 10 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame. He now weighs 193 pounds, a weight at which he'd like to remain during the season.

"I'm really excited about the season," Lee said. "I'm ready to show them what I can do. I just work on my routine."

Rays manager Joe Maddon said that Lee has been a half a tick off this spring.

"He's a little bit behind," Maddon said. "I don't know how much he had a chance to work this winter in Korea. He's fine, though. He just needs more reps."

Maddon also noted that he really likes Lee.

"If you watch his hands and his release, how he throws the baseball, it's very, very good," Maddon said. "This guy's still a big part of our future. He's a great kid."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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