Not all the Cubs corners have been sharp

CHICAGO – If the Cubs are going to round the bend toward some sustained success, it has always been considered the corner guys who are going to have to lead them.

Right now only one of them is rolling as first baseman Bryan LaHair continues to do his part. Third baseman Ian Stewart, meanwhile, has fallen off the radar of late.

LaHair hit his second home run of the three-game series against the Cardinals and his third home run against St. Louis this season. But when nobody else came forward to help LaHair carry the club, their chance at a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals was dashed.

“It’s nice because coming in he was one guy we needed to hit home runs,” manager Dale Sveum said. “It’s been nice each time because basically besides today his other home runs were big home runs that either put a game out of hand or got us back in it. It’s nice because we definitely need those two corner guys to drive the ball out of the ballpark.”

LaHair and Stewart appeared to be taking off together when they both hit home runs in an April 13 game at St. Louis. LaHair hit a grand slam that day while Stewart hit a three-run shot. But ever since then, they seem to be on diverging paths.

Stewart went just 1-for-20 on the homestand and saw his batting average fall to .175, an alarming number even for a guy whose game has never been about hitting for average.

“He swung the bat good that one day when he hit the ball hard four times and I think sometimes when you don’t get results, guys start pressing a little bit and swinging out of the zone,” Sveum said. “But we’ll get him going. He has too much bat speed. The good thing is, for the most part, he’s getting good pitches to hit. We just have to get things going swinging the bats.”

LaHair might be a rookie at age 29, but he’s been around long enough to know it’s too hard to pick up the slack caused by somebody else.

“I’m just myself up there,” LaHair said. “I just control what I can control. I take my at-bats for me and for the team but I don’t try to pick anybody else up. I have full trust in everybody else on this team.”