Results tagged ‘ Bryan LaHair ’

5/22 Day off

Bryan LaHair was expected to get a day off Tuesday when the Cubs play the Astros in Game 2 of their three-game series. The first baseman is 1-for-19 in his last six games and the Astros will be starting lefty J.A. Happ. Dale Sveum said he would like LaHair to do some early work, then take a breather.

– Carrie Muskat

5/20 Could Rizzo join Cubs?

The Cubs offense has struggled this season but one player who hasn’t is Anthony Rizzo, who was batting .353 in 40 games at Triple-A Iowa. Could the first baseman join the big league team soon?

“That’s definitely going to be talked about,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday. “He’s done everything he can down there but once again, when you bring somebody up like that, he has to play every day. That’s the million dollar question. How do we get that playing time.”

Rizzo is considered a potential Gold Glove first baseman, and Bryan LaHair has done fine at first for the Cubs. LaHair could move to one of the outfield corners to make room. One possibility would be to add Rizzo when the Cubs play Interleague games in American League ballparks and need a designated hitter. They travel to Minnesota June 8-10 and play the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on June 18-20.

“It’s definitely something we’ll talk about and probably around the beginning of June and Interleague play when you need a DH,” Sveum said.

The problem is, when the Cubs call Rizzo up, it’s not going to be a short fix.

“I think he’s a huge asset at first base,” Sveum said of the 22-year-old Rizzo. “A left-handed first baseman, and he’s really, really good over there. I don’t think we’d move him to the outfield or move him around at all.”

Rizzo has made six errors at Iowa, but he’s also hit 14 home runs, totaled 39 RBIs and has a .706 slugging percentage. He was promoted to the big leagues last June after hitting .365 at Triple-A Tucson, and struggled, batting .143 in 35 games. Rizzo was sent back to Tucson, and recalled in September, hitting .133 in 14 games then.

The Cubs rank 10th in the National League with a .246 team batting average and are 12th with 29 home runs. They need some pop.

“Our offense has to step up, there’s no getting around it,” Sveum said. “We have to step up to get three-run innings, multiple crooked numbers all the time as much as you possibly can. It’s too difficult to not do anything off starting pitchers and think you’re going to do stuff off the back end of bullpens.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/17 LaHair’s streak ends

Bryan LaHair was 0-for-4 on Wednesday, ending his streak of reaching base safely at 32 games. That’s tied for the second-longest by a Cubs first baseman since 1945, joining Phil Cavarretta (32 games in 1945), Bill Buckner (32 games in 1981) and Derrek Lee (32 games in 2007). Andre Thornton had a 33-game run in 1975. LaHair said he never changed his approach during the streak.

“I keep it simple,” LaHair said. “I stick to my approach. I’ve been doing this for awhile. I’m just real comfortable at the plate, try to get on base for the team. I try to give guys like [Alfonso Soriano] and [Ian] Stewart the chance to drive me in, just like the guys in front of me are trying to let me drive them in. It’s a chain effect for the whole offense.”

LaHair did reach base on an error in the fourth but that does not extend his streak. The only at-bats that count are ones that increase on-base percentage, which include a base hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch.

The Cubs first baseman is one of the team’s top candidates for the All-Star Game.

“I’m humbled by the talk,” LaHair said. “That’s really all it is right now is talk. I’ve got to stay in the moment and prepare for tonight’s game. I never like to get too far ahead of myself. There’s a lot of good players in this league and a lot of guys with time served. I don’t know how the process works, I just try to do my part. If that kind of thing happens, it happens and it’d be great.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/13 Mother’s Day lineup

The Cubs will try to avoid being swept at Miller Park on Sunday as Jeff Samardzija takes the mound in the series finale. The Brewers are 5-1 against the Cubs so far this season. The Cubs are trying to snap a 10-game losing streak at Miller Park. It’s their longest skid at a visiting ballpark since losing 13 in a row at Busch Stadium Oct. 3, 1999, to June 19, 2001.

Since 1914, the Cubs are 49-64 on Mother’s Day, and 5-3 since 2004.  Jeff Samardzija will start, vying for his third straight win. Starlin Castro and Bryan LaHair are both in mini funks. They’re both 1-for-10 in the two games so far on this road trip, while Ian Stewart is 0-for-6. Here’s the lineup:

RF DeJesus

CF Campana

SS Castro

1B LaHair

LF Soriano

3B Stewart

C Soto

2B Barney

P Samardzija

– Carrie Muskat

5/12 About last night …

* Friday’s 13-inning game was 5 hours 4 minutes long, and strangely, followed the shortest game of the year on Wednesday, which was completed in 2:05

* The Cubs walked 14 batters, one shy of the franchise record of 15 set May 15, 1962, against the Mets, which also was a 13-inning game.

* There were 466 pitches thrown (235 by eight Cubs pitchers, 231 by eight Brewers pitchers). Rafael Dolis threw a season-high 41 pitches; his previous high was 39 in his second appearance of the season on April 10 against the Brewers. Dolis now is 3-for-5 in save opportunities this year. Kerry Wood matched his season high with 25 pitches.

“Woody did a great job,” Dale Sveum said. “Hopefully that builds his confidence up.”

* Bryan LaHair was 0-for-6, and his batting average dropped from .384 to .359. His streak of reaching base safely ended at 27 games. Starlin Castro did extend his hitting streak to 10 games.

* After combing for one run over the first six innings, the Cubs and Brewers then totaled 14 in the final seven.

– Carrie Muskat 

5/11 Rudy wants more swagger

Rudy Jaramillo wants to see a little swagger. The Cubs hitting coach challenged the players on Friday. They are 10-7 in their last 17 games dating to April 21, and batting .254 in that stretch with 13 of their season total 18 home runs in that stretch. Bryan LaHair has carried the team, batting .384 with a team-high eight home runs.

“Players are so superstitious,” Jaramillo said. “It’s kind of like a ritual — you remember how you put your uniform on the day before and then maybe you change your socks or you try to do something different. What happens, too, is they try to do something different with their swing and try to change it, but really you have to go back to your mentality and change that.”

What he wants to see is some swagger and players being aggressive and attacking.

“We get in between mentally at the plate when you’re struggling because you’re worried about mechanics, you’re worried about what pitch, so there’s no concentration, no plan or approach,” he said. “The way you get out of it is to go up there and be aggressive so you don’t get that in between thinking, and attack. [Tell yourself] ‘I’m going to attack and get a good pitch and hit it hard.’ That’s how you get out of it, basically.”

Which is what he told the players.

“I said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to hear about mechanics, I don’t want to hear about anything,'” Jaramillo said. “‘I want you to attack the ball and be aggressive and then you don’t think about being in between.’ and we had a great session.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/11 Extra bases

* In the last three games, the Cubs starting pitchers have gone seven innings and given up one run or none. That last happened July 29-31, 2008, against the Brewers when Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Rich Harden did so. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time they went four straight games of seven innings with one run or none was July 29-31, 1984, when Steve Trout, Scott Sanderson, Dennis Eckersley and Rich Bordi did so.

* Bryan LaHair has reached base safely in 27 straight games. Taht’s the longest in the National League this season and third-longest in the Major Leagues.

* LaHair has 17 RBIs in his last 21 games.

* Jeff Baker will make his second start in right field Friday. He’s batting .231 overall, and is 2-for-9 vs. left-handers and 4-for-17 vs. right-handers this season. Right-handed batters are hiting .349 against Milwaukee’s Randy Wolf, while lefties are hitting .290.

* Geovany Soto was 2-for-17 in the just completed homestand. Adrian Cardenas is still looking for his first Major League hit.

* Pitching matchups vs. the Brewers:

Friday: Matt Garza vs. Randy Wolf

Saturday: Chris Volstad vs. Shaun Marcum

Sunday: Jeff Samardzija vs. Marco Estrada

– Carrie Muskat

5/9 Extra bases, Part II

* Paul Maholm has a 1.07 ERA in his last four starts, all wins, and has held batters to a .167 average. He’s given up three earned runs in 25 1/3 innings. The four-game win streak ties his personal best, most recently May 31-July 10, 2008.

“I’m going to have another rough outing at some point, that’s part of baseball,” Maholm said, “but I’m going to ride this as long as I possibly can and hopefully for a good while.”

* Starlin Castro tried to get the Cubs on the board in the fourth when he hit a ball near the right field foul line past a diving Jason Heyward. But Heyward recovered and relayed the ball to second baseman Dan Uggla, who easily threw out Castro at home. Third base coach Pat Listach was waving Castro home.

“It’s one of those things, it still took a good relay throw,” Dale Sveum said of the play. “With two outs there, you’re hoping for a bad skip or bad relay throw. Sometimes as the third base coach, you like pushing the envelope especially in a game when you feel it’ll be a tough time scoring runs, and sure enough it was a game like that.”

* Cubs pitchers have a 2.51 ERA in the last 17 games, and the team is 10-7 in that stretch. They’ve won three straight home series.

* Wednesday’s 2 hour 5 minute game was the shortest of the season.

* Bryan LaHair has reached safely in a team-high 27 straight games. he has 17 RBIs in his last 21 games.

* Next up is a three-game series at Miller Park. It’ll be Matt Garza vs. Randy Wolf on Friday; Chris Volstad vs. Shaun Marcum on Saturday; and Jeff Samardzija vs. Marco Estrada on Sunday.

– Carrie Muskat

5/9 Right place, right time

The Cubs were in perfect position on Wednesday to defend against the Braves and took advantage of Atlanta shortstop Jack Wilson to score the game-winning run. In the seventh, David DeJesus singled to lead off and moved up on two groundouts before scoring on Bryan LaHair’s single just past Wilson. LaHair has reached base safely in 27 straight games, and has 17 RBIs in his last 21 games. Paul Maholm saw Wilson move slightly and LaHair adjusted.

“The first at-bat, they didn’t have the big shift on him and Jack was on the shortstop side and when he got the RBI single, I looked out there and saw that Jack had moved a few steps,” Maholm said. “[LaHair] is just taking what they give him. That’s what you want from a power guy. He’s not up there trying to hook everything. If they’re going to pitch him away, he’ll go with it.”

LaHair said the Braves seemed to be making their own adjustments against him each at-bat.

“I haven’t seen a fastball that much the whole series after the first two at-bats of the series,” LaHair said. “I had a feeling maybe [Hudson] would try to get ahead away and before I stepped in the box, I thought about hitting that hole and I got the pitch I was looking for.”

It’s not that easy, folks.

– Carrie Muskat 

5/7 LaHair locked in

Bryan LaHair may be surprising people who haven’t seen him but he isn’t surprising himself.

“I’ve envisioned exactly what’s taken place,” LaHair said after Monday’s 5-1 win over the Braves. “I’ve focused on having a great season and I’m not surprised.”

LaHair hit his eighth home run, most among Major League first basemen, and now has reached base safely in 25 straight games. He has 16 RBIs in his last 19 games and of his eight home runs, four have tied a game. He’s locked in.

“That’s just my approach,” LaHair said. “I work really hard to get ahead in the count, I work really hard to swing at good pitches. I study before the game, I visualize before the game. I see myself swinging at good pitches all the time at home, in the dugout, in the locker room. I always see myself swinging at good pitches, and sometimes I don’t.”

– Carrie Muskat

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