As Cubs slump, so does LaHair

HOUSTON -- They were going to have to send Bryan LaHair's superhero costume to the cleaners at some point.

For much of the Cubs’ current seven-game losing streak the previously red-hot slugger has been in a funk right along with the rest of his teammates. Clark Kent vs. the breaking ball isn’t what anybody wants to see.

Since his home run last Tuesday at St. Louis, LaHair has gone 1-for-19 and his streak of reaching base in 32 consecutive games that ended last week is a fond memory. It is the first time he has gone this long without a home run since a seven-game run April 14-23, but he at least had six hits over that stretch.

During the mini-slump his batting average has dropped from .352 to its current .315 mark. In fact, the entire month of May hasn’t been extremely kind to LaHair. He was batting .390 at the end of April, while his on-base percentage has dropped from .471 to .413 and his slugging percentage has gone from .780 to .622.

They remain impressive numbers, it's just the rate they are falling that is the concern.

“Everything is a little deep and (past) him and he tries to speed his bat up,” manager Dale Sveum said. “I think I’m going to give him a day off (Tuesday). He hasn’t played this many days in a row in the big leagues and we’ll give him a little mental day off and come out for early work and see if that will help.”

White not pointing a finger at LaHair specifically, manager Sveum did say before the game that by the 200 at-bat mark a hitter needs to be making adjustments. LaHair is at the 127 mark, with 150 plate appearances.

“Cal Ripken used to have a different stance every week, Don Mattingly, you go on and on,” Sveum said. “You just want to see some effort for change whether it’s mechanics or the effort to take more pitches and not feel like the only way you have a chance is to hit the first pitch and if you don’t the at-bat is over.

“You want to see change and adjustments made, otherwise you have a hard time keeping the line moving if you don’t trust your neighbor.”

Sveum did say that pitchers are working LaHair differently now and his counter-adjustments have been a work in progress.

“It’s understanding that we’re still hitting off the fastball even though you’re getting breaking balls,” Sveum said. “It’s not being so caught up in guessing off-speed all the time. You have to learn to be on the fastball and adjust to the breaking ball. Yeah, you have educated guesses but sometimes you guess right and you swing no matter where it is and that’s what happens sometimes to young hitters.”