Tagged: Bryan LaHair

2/5 Extra bases

Some former Cubs in the news:

* The Indians have signed Bryan LaHair to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. LaHair, 31, will compete for at-bats as a DH and possible role player off the bench. He has hit .289 against right-handed pitching. LaHair spent last season in Japan.

* Carlos Zambrano gave up three runs on two hits over 5 1/3 innings in Venezuela’s 6-3 win Monday over Mexico in the Caribbean Series. Zambrano, 32, was 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA in 42 innings for Navigantes this winter.

* Catcher Koyie Hill has signed a Minor League contract with the Nationals that includes a Spring Training invite.

As for up and coming Cubs, today, Feb. 5, is Shawon Dunston Jr.’s 21st birthday. The outfielder is one of the Cubs’ top prospects. How time flies.

— Carrie Muskat

11/21 Extra bases

* The Cubs have reportedly signed outfielder Brian Bogusevic to a Minor League contract. Baseball America reported the signing on Wednesday. The Cubs also have signed infielder Alberto Gonzalez, outfielder Johermyn Chavez and catcher J.C. Boscan to Minor League deals.

Bogusevic, 28, a first-round Draft pick by the Astros in 2005, batted .203 in 146 games for Houston last season with seven home runs and nine doubles. Gonzalez, 29, has played for the Yankees, Nationals, Padres and Rangers, and batted .241 in 24 games this past season with Texas, playing second, third and shortstop. Boscan, 32, appeared in six games for the Braves, while Chavez, 23, batted .232 and compiled a .725 OPS in 288 plate appearances for the Mariners’ Double-A team.

* Bryan LaHair, who the Cubs designated for assignment on Tuesday, is reportedly close to signing with the SoftBank Hawks in Japan. LaHair, 30, was a National League All-Star but lost his job to Anthony Rizzo, and finished the year batting .259 with 16 home runs in 380 plate appearances.

* The ice rink at Wrigley Field was scheduled to open Friday but that has been delayed because of the unseasonably warm weather in Chicago. Interested skaters should follow the team Twitter @Cubs for updates.

— Carrie Muskat


11/20 Cubs add 4; LaHair DFA

The Cubs selected the contracts of four players, including Logan Watkins, the Minor League Player of the Year, and added them to the 40-man roster but also designated All-Star Bryan LaHair for assignment. Besides Watkins, right-handed pitcher Trey McNutt, infielder Christian Villanueva and right-handed pitcher Robert Whitenack were added to the Cubs’ roster, which is now at 40.

Tuesday was the deadline for Major League teams to protect eligible prospects from next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Among the players left unprotected were right-hander Nick Struck, who was the organization’s 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

The Cubs are pursuing an opportunity for LaHair, 30, with a Japanese team. He batted .259 with 16 home runs and 40 RBIs in 130 games but lost the first base job to rookie Anthony Rizzo. LaHair batted .390 in April with five home runs and 14 RBIs, but then struggled. Rizzo was promoted from Triple-A Iowa on June 26, and won National League Rookie of the Month honors in July by batting .330 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs. LaHair did consider playing in Japan after the 2011 season if he couldn’t get regular at-bats.

The Cubs also announced right-handed pitcher Carlos Gutierrez, 26, who was claimed off waivers from the Twins Oct. 24, has cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa.

— Carrie Muskat

10/3 LaHair: “That game was for her”

Wednesday’s game was more than No. 162 for Bryan LaHair. It was a chance for him to make his grandmother Theresa smile. LaHair hit a solo home run in the second and a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the ninth to lift the Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the Astros. This was personal for LaHair, and not just because it was a chance to redeem himself after going from National League All-Star to bench player following the rise of Anthony Rizzo. LaHair’s grandmother is battling cancer and it’s been a difficult fight.

“That game was for her today,” LaHair said.

With the game tied at 4 in the ninth against Hector Ambriz (1-1), Anthony Recker walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Darwin Barney, who moved up one out later on Tony Campana’s bunt single. One out later, Starlin Castro, the only regular in the starting lineup on the last day of the season, playing in his 162nd game, drew a walk to load the bases. LaHair then lined the first pitch to right for the game-winner.

LaHair talked to his mother last night to get an update.

“The last thing my mom said was, ‘Get one for her,'” LaHair said. “I told her to let [his grandmother] know I’ll get one.”

The Cubs ended with 101 losses, second-most in franchise history, and behind only the 1962 and ’66 teams that finished 59-103.

— Carrie Muskat

9/30 Baserunning 101

First it was Luis Valbuena getting thrown out at third trying to advance on what would’ve been a sacrifice fly, but instead ended up as a double play. Joe Mather made the same mistake. Dale Sveum said he hadn’t seen that in 30 years in baseball, yet saw it twice this year. On Sunday, there were a couple more gaffes. The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, and one out later, pinch-hitter Dave Sappelt hit a run-scoring infield single. Anthony Recker was hit by a pitch to force in another run, and Bryan LaHair then lined a two-run single to right. But the inning ended as LaHair was picked off at first.

In the third, Anthony Rizzo doubled, and was picked off when he was walking off the base. He thought Alfonso Soriano had struck out, but instead it was only the second strike of the at-bat.

“It’s like a vitamin. One a day,” Sveum said of the strange base running mistakes. “It’s stuff you don’t teach it and don’t see it. It’s strange stuff, it’s unbelievable.”

What happened?

“Rizzo thought there were two strikes and two outs and thought Soriano struck out, and started walking off,” Sveum said. “LaHair got caught — [first base coach Dave] McKay was telling him to go and draw the throw and we could score the run on the backside. It’s one of those plays, you’ve got the outfielder where you want him. You can go, and if he throws to first, you walk into second. If he throws to second, you score the back-end run.”

The Cubs did work on that in Spring Training.

“It’s something that comes up rarely during the season,” Sveum said of LaHair’s play. “Two strikes, two outs, you’re not teaching that. We’ve got some pretty big scoreboards out here to let you know [the count]. You have no explanation for those.”

Rizzo took the blame.

“I just thought there were two strikes, two outs and I did the right thing if there were two strikes, two outs but there wasn’t,” he said. “It is embarrassing because I know Dale has to answer those questions. … I’m happy we came up with a win.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/17 Extra bases

* The Cubs have a lot of decisions regarding next season’s roster but Welington Castillo has given the team a lot to think about regarding their catching situation.

“He’s definitely made probably the biggest progress of anybody on the team right now,” Dale Sveum said Monday of Castillo, who has started 34 games behind the plate. “The changes he’s made in his defense and calling the game and the preparation [are impressive] His whole attitude has changed into an everyday catcher’s mindset.

“I think he’s starting to have a lot more fun and understanding the progression he’s had to go through,” Sveum said. “I think going into Spring Training, he’ll feel like he’s the every day catcher, no matter what we do. He’ll have that mentality that he’ll catch 120 games next year.”

* Bryan LaHair has gone from All-Star to an extra player on the Cubs bench. LaHair, who was the starting first baseman until Anthony Rizzo arrived, totaled 231 at-bats in 74 games before the All-Star break and was voted to the National League All-Star team by his peers. But in the second half, he’s played in 41 games and has 90 at-bats. He batted .286 with 14 home runs before the break, and was hitting .189 with one home run since.

“For his sake, I think he needs to play winter ball again and get the at-bats he’s missed out on and be ready for Spring Training like he was this year,” Sveum said of LaHair.

However, both Rizzo and right fielder David DeJesus are expected back in 2013. It’ll be tough for LaHair to get at-bats.

“That goes unsaid,” Sveum said.

* One player who has opened some eyes is Dave Sappelt, acquired from the Reds in the Sean Marshall deal. Sappelt could fill the role of right-handed bat off the bench, which Reed Johnson had this year until he was dealt to the Braves.

“There’s a bat there that can play in the big leagues,” Sveum said of Sappelt, who batted .266 in 133 games with Triple-A Iowa this year. “He’s got the ability and the bat speed and the bat ability to play in the big leagues.”

Sappelt was batting .310 in 11 games since he was promoted Sept. 1.

* Pitching matchups vs. the Reds:

Tuesday: RHP Justin Germano (2-7, 6.24) vs. RHP Homer Bailey (11-9, 3.93)

Wednesday: LHP Chris Rusin (1-2, 5.06) vs. RHP Mike Leake (8-9, 4.69)

Thursday: RHP Jason Berken (0-1, 7.20) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (17-9, 2.92)

— Carrie Muskat

8/27 Good guys

Darwin Barney, Bryan LaHair, James Russell and Jeff Samardzija will help about 50 children from the Cubs Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program have a fun time at Monday’s game. The kids will receive round-trip transportation to the game, meet the players, get free tickets, food and beverages, part of the Major League Baseball Players Trust’s “Buses for Baseball” program. The Players Trust is supported by the Cubs organization in providing a unique, up close and personal opportunity to share the thrill of Major League Baseball with those less fortunate. The Cubs RBI program has operated in the Chicago area since 2000 and reaches over 600 youth ages 5-18. It is designed to increase participation and interest in baseball, especially among minorities, and to increase the number of talented athletes prepared to play in college and the minor leagues.

— Carrie Muskat

8/22 LaHair connects

It’s been a long time between home runs for Bryan LaHair. On Wednesday, he hit his first blast since July 4, connecting on a leadoff homer in the seventh in the Cubs’ 3-2 loss to the Brewers.

“Any time you can get a result after hard work, it shows hard work can pay off,” LaHair said. “I’ll take it.”

He’s gone from being the Cubs’ starting first baseman and All-Star to a spot starter in right field and left-handed bat off the bench.

“It’s definitely tough,” LaHair said. “It’s not something I’m used to, and not something I like. I’m trying to do the best job I can possibly do.”

What about next year?

“I just want to be in the big leagues, I want the opportunity and whatever opportunity comes my way, I’m going to try to do the best I can,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

8/6 LaHair bumped again

Bryan LaHair is the odd man out for the second time this season. LaHair lost the first base job to Anthony Rizzo on June 26, and now has been bumped from the Cubs outfield with the arrival of Brett Jackson.

“It’s going to be tough getting playing time,” Dale Sveum said of LaHair, who was one of the Cubs’ two All-Stars. “Unfortunately, these things happened to him twice with our two biggest prospects coming up in the same season and him getting bumped from a position.”

LaHair batted .194 in 21 July games, and was 3-for-9 in four games in August.

Jackson batted leadoff Monday in his second big league game, which he did for 56 games at Triple-A Iowa. Jackson batted .279 against left-handers at Iowa, and got a hit off Dodgers southpaw Randy Choate on Sunday.

— Carrie Muskat