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LaHair Brings Versatility to Clippers Lineup

LaHair Brings Versatility to Clippers Lineup

| On 14, Apr 2014

The Clippers have a secret weapon on their roster, who, believe it or not, was a MLB All-Star in 2012; his name is Bryan LaHair.

LaHair signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians in February after returning from a season playing with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in Nippon Professional Baseball’s Pacific League in 2013.

Before taking his talents to Japan for one season, LaHair was a starter for the Chicago Cubs and made the National League All-Star team in 2012 after a hot start in the first half of the season with 14 home runs, 30 RBIs and a .286 batting average. Unlike his Cubs All-Star counterpart, shortstop Starlin Castro, LaHair began seeing less and less playing time when Cubs first base prospect Anthony Rizzo was called up after the All-Star Break.

Following the falling out, the Cubs designated LaHair for assignment and helped him sign with Fukuoka.

LaHair played 111 games for the Softbank Hawks in 2013 where he hit .230 with 80 hits and 16 home runs. He had some tough at-bats while in Japan, including 121 strikeouts in 389 plate appearances.

Despite playing mostly first base during his eight seasons in the farm systems of the Cubs and the Seattle Mariners, as well with Fukuoka, he’s been splitting time between first base and outfield positions during his time on the Cubs and now with the Clippers.

LaHair is a versatile player, who is a lot like Indians first baseman Nick Swisher, who has also spent time in the outfield during his career.

“He’ll play some first base, outfield and probably some DH,” Clippers Manager Chris  Tremie said.

LaHair most successful seasons have been at the Triple-A level, where he has played in 660 games. LaHair had three consecutive seasons in Triple-A with 25 or more home runs. In 2011, his final season with the Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle-AAA), he hit a career high of 26 home runs. After signing with the Cubs in 2010, he went on to hit 25 home runs in 2011 with the Iowa Cubs and then a career-high of 38 home runs in 2012.

“He’s had success in the past and had a really good year a couple years ago,” Tremie said. “He’s a good offensive player.”

In the Clippers first 10 games, LaHair has played in seven and has totaled 22 at-bats. He has collected two hits, one run and one RBI so far in 2014, but has struck out five times.

The Clippers are currently 3-7 on the young season and finish their series in Indianapolis on Monday and Tuesday before heading to Toledo for two games with the Mud Hens. They will be back in Columbus on April 18 to host Toledo in four games, including a Saturday double header before hosting the Gwinnett Braves for four games in the last home series of April.

Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer