All-Star LaHair showing some shine again

ATLANTA – Bryan LaHair seems intent on being at his best for his national close up next week.

After a rough stretch in June that still didn’t prevent him from earning a spot on the National League Star team, LaHair has started to heat up again and just in time for his appearance Tuesday in the All-Star Game.

The left-handed power hitter posted a .156 batting average from June 5-27, but he has started to turn it around. He had three hits Friday against the Houston Astros and has a hit in each of the three games at Atlanta against the Braves, including a home run Wednesday.

It was LaHair’s first home run since June 18 and just his second since June 8.

“The swing feels real good,” LaHair said. “It’s just putting a few hits together and getting that extra confidence over the hump and taking off from there. I’m working hard in the cage and working hard on my swing right now just to kind of get that feeling, that confidence back and everything falls from there.”

LaHair crushed a 2-0 pitch from Braves starter Randall Delgado to the seats in right-center in the fourth inning. It was his 14th home run and 30th RBI.

The home run broke a 1-1 tie, meaning that of his 14 home runs, LaHair has tied the game or given the Cubs the lead with 10 of them.

As a reward for his improvement at the plate, manager Dale Sveum said LaHair will start Thursday against a left-hander as the Braves will send Mike Minor to the mound. It is the second time LaHair has started against a lefty in the past week, also getting the call against the Astros’ J.A. Happ this past weekend.

“I’ve made a few adjustments and kind of let the good and bad go a little bit on the mental side and I’m just trusting in my abilities,” LaHair said. “I’m letting everything happen for me.”

With Anthony Rizzo also going deep on Wednesday it marked the first time both left-handed hitters have hit home runs in the same game. LaHair and Rizzo talked the spring about what a force they could be if they ever played in the same lineup.

“It’s just a good option to have, it really is,” LaHair said. “He’s swinging well and I’m swinging well. It’s a great combo.”

It might not be a coincidence that LaHair has revived his game not long after Rizzo arrived on the scene.

“I think I’m going to push him and he’s going to push me,” LaHair said. “We’re going to compete as teammates and it’s good when you have guys with those abilities who are able to compete with each other. And you also have (Alfonso Soriano) who also competes. When we’re all competing together as a team to win, a lot of good things happen.”