U-S-Nay!

Rumors that Derrek Lee might join Team USA as an injury replacement for Kevin Youkilis in the final round of the World Baseball Classic gained little traction, considering, as Lee said Thursday, “I’m not even playing here.”

Besides, said Lee, who has been sidelined since Monday by a sore right quadriceps, he was never asked.

Lee expects to return to the Cubs’ lineup today. He said he sat out the past few days only for precautionary reasons and doesn’t expect the quad to be an issue.

Not only is Lee not headed off to the WBC, but the Cubs got one back Thursday, when starting catcher Geo Soto returned following Team Puerto Rico’s elimination Tuesday night.

“It’s nice to have him back because, first of all, he wasn’t catching all that much with the Puerto Rican team, and he needs at-bats,” Piniella said. “And also we’re going to have maybe four or five different pitchers on our staff, and he needs to start catching these guys and get familiar with them.”

The Cubs have two players left in the WBC’s Final Four: Kosuke Fukudome with Japan and Ted Lilly with Team USA.

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