Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 8/16/12
DENVER -- Carlos Lee was supposed to be the final piece to get the Marlins into the playoffs. It won't happen this season. But what about next year? Lee sure wouldn't mind giving it a shot. "If they want me back, I like it here," the first baseman said before Thursday's 5-3 loss to Colorado at Coors Field, a game that featured Lee's second home run with Miami. "I think we can put a good lineup out there. If they want me back, I'll be more than happy to." Lee, 36, will be a free agent after the season. After he was acquired July 4 from Houston, with the Marlins at 39-42 and still in contention for a playoff berth, many figured he would end up just being a half-season rental. Lee, though, said the Marlins, now 53-66, are high on the list of teams he wants to play for next season. "Yeah," said Lee, a 14-year veteran and native of Panama. "Unfortunately, we've had too many injuries (this season). But I like the clubhouse. We got a bunch of nice guys. I like the setup of the lineup. It's great with (Emilio) Bonifacio and (Jose) Reyes (batting) before me and me and (Giancarlo) Stanton in the middle of the lineup. There are going to be a lot of opportunities to drive in runs." Not long after Lee arrived, Stanton missed a month with a knee injury. Then Bonifacio was lost in early August with a thumb injury after earlier in the season having been out nearly two months due to a thumb problem. When Stanton, Miami's only All-Star selection, was sidelined, the Marlins fell out of playoff contention. That's when they traded Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez to all but give up on the season. Lee, though, said he has no regrets about waiving his limited no-trade clause to go to Miami. Then again, the Astros do have by far baseball's worst record. Lee said the Marlins "will win" in the future. And he'd love to be part of it. If the Marlins don't commit to moving Logan Morrison from outfield to first base next season, Lee could remain a fit. He doesn't have the power he once had, but he still drives in runs. Lee, who averaged 30.1 home runs between 2003 and 2010, hit 18 last season and has just seven in 106 overall games this season. But Lee, who has had six 100-RBI seasons in his career, does have 26 RBIs in 38 Marlins games while hitting .287. "He still can play," said Reyes, Miami's shortstop. "That's good that he wants to come back, because he's still a good hitter, especially with people in scoring position. He's the guy we want there at home plate because he's got the right approach." Of course, to return to Miami, Lee also would need to have the right price. There's no way he would command anywhere near the 18.5 million he's making this season. "Yeah, things change," said Lee, referring to his need to take a big pay cut. "I'm not the same. But I still think I can do a lot of things in this game. We'll see. That's the business part of the game. We'll see what happens." Lee isn't ready to say how long he wants to play. But he doesn't want to be a guy who hangs around too long. "When I feel I can't do it anymore," Lee said, "when I'm not playing up to expectations, that would be the time to go." Lee might not know when, but he knows where he will go when he retires. He owns cattle ranches outside Houston and in Panama. But the latter is where he heart remains. "When I'm finished, I'm planning to go back home," he said. "I'm from Panama. It's pretty safe and nice there." Even if the wins haven't come, Lee has been finding Miami nice also. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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