Thursday, April 19, 2012
Expect LaHair to start movin' on up
By Doug Padilla
MIAMI -- A case of cold feet Thursday prevented manager Dale Sveum from moving Bryan LaHair up in the lineup.
Although after the way he has been hitting, including his output in Thursday's game, the Cubs could be getting a new cleanup hitter soon.
Sveum said after Wednesday's defeat that he had a lineup change in mind. With Alfonso Soriano turning into a singles hitter this season, the logical assumption was that LaHair might find his way into a more high-profile spot other than the six hole he's been operating out of most of the season.
"You want to give it a certain chance and see what happens [with the lineup], but there is always room for change and he's obviously a candidate that would have to move up in the lineup if he keeps swinging the bat like he's doing it, getting bigger hits," Sveum said. "He's the one guy with a chance of slugging percentage so you want to get him up as many times as you can."
Sveum's comment came before LaHair had a second-inning walk and a third inning double. LaHair also legged out an extra base each of the first two times he was on base.
The lifetime minor leaguer, who is getting his first chance to start at the major leagues at 29, has made a seamless transition.
"It's just confidence," LaHair said. "I know I can hit and I've always known that. I just have no fear. I'm getting the opportunity and I'm ready for it. There's no fear."
Sveum has been searching high and low for some extra-base hits. It isn't necessarily home runs he needs, he'll take whatever he can get.
"A .325 slugging percentage isn't going to cut it no matter if you're hitting home runs or not," Sveum said. "You need those doubles when it's first and second. You need a double with a guy on first base to get a quick run like that. We're going to have a hard time stringing together three, four, five hits in an inning."
A home series starts Friday against the Reds, who are going with al right-handed starters in the three games. At the very least LaHair is expected to play in all three games and figures to have a new lineup spot as well.