- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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HOUSTON -- Even on his free days, Bryan LaHair elects to stay extremely busy.
In a 1-for-19 slide, LaHair was out of the lineup Tuesday against Houston Astros left-hander J.A. Happ, giving him his first day on the bench since an April 23 contest against the St. Louis Cardinals. Jeff Baker started at first base, while Alfonso Soriano batted in the cleanup spot.
So what did LaHair do knowing late Monday night that he wouldn’t be playing the next day? He took early batting practice, as well as regular batting practice. He went through multiple rounds of fielding drills when he wasn’t at the plate during BP and capped it off with an intense workout in the weight room.
LaHair is well aware he isn’t getting any results and he went through the drill of saying he actually feels good and is having some bad luck, but admitted he wasn’t feeling right at the plate Friday and Saturday against the White Sox and gave away his first at-bat at Houston on Monday when he struck out swinging on a full count with Tony Campana standing at third base.
“I go through it every year, everybody goes through it,” LaHair said. “I go through it a couple of times a year. But I feel like I’m one click away from getting it back to where it is.”
Manager Dale Sveum suggested Monday night that LaHair was guessing at pitches, but LaHair refuted that. He said that he has always remained locked in on the fastball before adjusting from there to offspeed pitches.
LaHair thinks his issue has more to do with his swing plane.
“I’m right where I want to be now,” LaHair said. “I feel like I needed to adjust my bat head just a little more. Right now I’m swinging just a bit under and I’m adjusting that and I need to adjust it one more little click I think.”
Another positive for LaHair is that the lingering effects from his late spring back injury and subsequent nerve damage are dissipating. He’s finally sleeping through the night without nerve pain in his right foot waking him up.
The way LaHair sees it, he will be tearing the cover off the ball soon and even though he didn’t want Tuesday off he’ll take it.
“I’m having good at-bats,” he said. “Very rarely am I going to walk up there and walk back in three pitches. I may walk back after one, I may not. It may not necessarily be three though. But I feel pretty close to swinging it again.”