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Carlos Lee ... the bull session
As told to David Sabino
July 30, 2007
THE ASTROS ARE struggling—but not so their big-ticket free agent acquisition. Leftfielder Carlos Lee signed up for six years and $100 million, then started doing what he does best: rake. His 80 RBIs were third best in the National League through Sunday. At 6'2" and 240 pounds, the Panama native isn't just a presence in the batter's box. He's also a star in another Texas pastime. Meet baseball's best-hitting rancher.
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July 30, 2007

Carlos Lee ... The Bull Session

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

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

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

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

On his ranching pedigree
I've been working on a ranch since I was about five, in Aguadulce. My grandfather 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 his properties
I have nine ranches in Panama with different types of stock. In the off-season I drive around and check them out pretty much every day. About half are commercial cattle, and the others are for breeding. In Texas, I breed cattle and export the embryos down to Panama. You can't transport live animals out of the United States.

On co-owning Mr. V8 960/5, the Grand Champion bull at the 2006 International Brahman Show in Houston
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 not concerned about handling livestock and has never had a mishap
Brahman is a docile breed. It's not a crazy cattle. When I see a difficult situation, I stay outside [the fence]. I play it smart.

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

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

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