CHICAGO – While the Cubs’ season was no doubt disappointing, it was most peculiar for Bryan LaHair.
The slugging left-handed hitter got off to an impressive start as basically the only hitter on the Cubs who was able to deliver in the early going. And despite cooling off considerably he was still an All-Star in July. But the team’s struggles brought about roster changes, leaving LaHair as basically an observer.
“It’s a unique kind of season,” LaHair said. “How many times have you ever seen it or has anybody has ever seen it? You go from being an All-Star to being on the bench and having a different role. It’s just different, unique. It doesn’t surprise me. It seems like that’s what should have happened.”
LaHair is a big believer in fate, but mostly because he is confident that with hard work he can determine his. He never complained about being benched and is even willing to be a reserve next season if the Cubs will have him back.
But he also knows that other teams saw what he did in the first half when he was batting .308 at the end of May with 10 home runs.
He was asked if it’s a 50-50 chance that he gets traded this season.
“I would definitely say that,” LaHair said. “I haven’t heard of anything like that from the horse’s mouth, (president) Theo (Epstein) or (GM) Jed (Hoyer) or any of those guys. I would say that there is a possibility there is a team out there that would want me to play every day. I would say that. Moving forward I don’t know what they want and how they would evaluate me at this point and if I will be here next year.”
Even before LaHair made the All-Star team, he had been struggling with the bat. By the end of June he was moved off first base when Anthony Rizzo was brought up and stopped playing in the outfield at the start of August when Brett Jackson arrived.
He was basically solid for 150 at-bats, struggled for 150 and then never got another 150 to see what he could do with it. But he refuses to see things as the prospects depriving him of the chance that finally came to him at age 29.
“I’m not going to look at it as I’m a victim,” LaHair said. “It was probably a good decision. I think deep down they kind of know what they have in me. They know I can handle the big-league pitching and hit for power and I’ve showed them I can play at an elite level. I think it was a good decision to get some young guys in here. Unfortunately it affected me.”
Taking the high road can only help LaHair in the end. He has finally started to come around as a pinch hitter in the latter stages of the season and would probably have to reprise that role if he comes back. But the Cubs would probably deal him away first, at the very least so he can finally spread his wings over a full season for once.
“Obviously not playing every day, I want to play every day,” he said. “I’m an everyday player. I think I’ve shown I can hit off the bench. I’m capable of doing that. But I’m an everyday player. If I’m going to be here and be on the bench then I will accept my role, but I think I’m an everyday player.”
Was there ever any frustration?
“I’m on board 100 percent,” he said. “As long as I’m wearing this uniform I have a role and whatever my role is I just want to try and do the best I can at it.”