Sunday, May 20, 2012
Could Rizzo promotion displace LaHair?
By Bruce Levine
The harsh reality of Anthony Rizzo's inevitable ascension to the major leagues dictates that baseball vagabond Bryan LaHair will be faced with changing positions or teams one more time.
The 29-year-old first baseman knows that at the very least he has earned playing time on an everyday basis.
The Cubs' Bryan LaHair reacts after being tagged out by White Sox infielder Brent Lillibridge.
“Whatever role I have I am going to accept it,” the affable LaHair said. “If (Rizzo ‘s promotion) is going to make our team better, then that’s what I am all about. I am all about wins.”
LaHair has played 14 games in the outfield during his brief major league career but said that no one on the coaching staff has approached him about any position shift or taking any fly balls during batting practice as of yet.
“I can handle whatever they want,” LaHair said. “Just so I play somewhere.”
The former journeyman has convinced even the most hardened baseball observers that he deserves 500 at-bats in the big leagues this season. The question is: Will all of those at bats take place for the Chicago Cubs?
Before Sunday’s game, Cubs manager Dale Sveum confirmed that Rizzo could be with the Cubs by June.
“That’s definitely going to be talked about,” Sveum said. “ He has done everything he can down there (hitting .350 at Triple A- Iowa ). When you bring a guy like that up he has to play every day and that is the million dollar question, how do we get that playing time.”
Sveum went on to say that the front office and coaching staff will consider moving Rizzo up when they need a DH for road interleague games that start on June 8 in Minnesota. That DH would be either LaHair or Alfonso Soriano.
“(Rizzo) is a huge asset at first base, ” Sveum said. “He is really, really good over there so I don’t think we will move him to the outfield.”
Trading LaHair is a possibility, much more so than moving the hobbled Soriano, who is a candidate for the DL with a sore knee . Finding back-to-back power-hitting left-handed sluggers is a rare happening as in the case of Rizzo and LaHair. That alone should give the Cubs brass some cause for pause before making a move.