He drew the curtain on 2012 with his game-ending single Wednesday in the bottom of the ninth inning that provided the Cubs will a rare scene this season: A celebratory scrum on the field.
But it was the tribute LaHair delivered earlier in the game that showed what he is made of. He wanted to hit one more home run this season for his ailing grandmother, and while getting a rare start at first base in the season finale, a home run is what he delivered.
“I was pretty psyched up about today’s game,” LaHair said. “I talked to my grandma last night, and I wanted to get one more (home run) for her. Luckily, I did. It was a good feeling right there.”
There hasn’t been much for LaHair to feel good about since he was named to the National League All-Star team in July. He had been in the midst of some offensive struggles at that point having already lost his job at first base to Anthony Rizzo.
He was moved to the outfield, but lost his chance to play there when Brett Jackson was called up in early August. Since then, LaHair has been learning what it takes to come off the bench as a pinch hitter and finally seemed to have settled into the role toward the final few weeks of the season.
It seems clear, though, that he won’t have much of a role if he returns next season. Rizzo isn’t going anywhere, and it would seem to be a long shot that he grabs the Opening Day job in right field.
Of the many moves the Cubs are expected to make this winter, trading LaHair would seem to be one of them.
“Chicago is where I want to be,” LaHair said. “This is the team I want to play for. But if there are other opportunities that are better for me, we decide that during the offseason. As far as right now, I’m walking out today as a Cub and we’ll see what happens from there.”
When a 29-year old gets his first real chance at a major league job and becomes an All-Star in the process, a better ending is expected. Give LaHair credit, though, he had to feel betrayed but he never let it show and even said that giving young players a chance at his expense is probably what the organization needed to move forward.
Those are the kind of guys who end up hitting home runs for their grandmother on the final day of the season.
“I’m just taking all the positives out of this year, I’m not taking any negatives,” LaHair said. “I got a chance to play early this year, and I did well. I played off the bench in the second half, and I thought I did well.
“There’s obviously a lot of room for improvement and adjustments that need to be made, but I’m going to continue to work hard. I’m gonna do a lot of studying this offseason with all my at-bats and those kind of things and hopefully I’ll have a better formula for next year.”