Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011
Posted: 11:15 p.m. Updated: 11:49 p.m. By PatrickMooney
CSNChicago.com CubsInsider Follow @CSNMooney
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The Cubs gathered in the green seats behind their dugout late Tuesday afternoon for their annual photo. The board of directors sat in the first row, surrounded by people from marketing, media relations, baseball operations, actual players and the coaching staff.
You can be certain that the exact same group wont be there next year.
The next general manager isnt working for the organization right now. But in the final three weeks of this lost season, there will still be revealing moments.
Bryan LaHair will turn 29 in November, long past the expiration date for prospects. He lasted until the 39th round of the 2002 draft and spent parts of the past six seasons on the Triple-A level, where he has nothing left to prove.
The Pacific Coast League MVP stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 240 pounds. He absolutely hammered Mike Leakes 90 mph fastball beyond the right-field seats.
Wrigley Field was mostly empty on a cold Tuesday night nowhere near the announced crowd of 35,297 but it got loud after LaHairs two-out, two-run pinch-hit homer tied the game in the ninth inning.
Leake was one pitch away from a complete-game shutout before LaHair showed the Cincinnati Reds what he did all season long in Iowa, where he generated 38 homers and 109 RBI.
It was an incredible moment, LaHair said. This is an incredible place to play.
Few bothered to stick around until the 13th inning when John Grabow the sixth Cubs reliever that night gave up back-to-back doubles to left-center field. After almost four hours, it finally ended as a 4-2 loss at 11 p.m.
LaHair can play the outfield, where the Cubs dont seem to have any openings, and first base, where Carlos Pena has repeatedly expressed a desire to return. Thats on the agenda for the next administration.
Pena gave LaHair a scouting report on Leake before he stepped to the plate and hit his first big-league homer since Sept. 20, 2008, when he was with the Seattle Mariners. LaHairs gone 4-for-9 since being called up last week. Though its unlikely hell take starts away from Pena and get regular at-bats, this cant hurt his chances.
(Penas) been amazing since I walked in here, LaHair said. Hes really made me feel comfortable. (Were) just trying to feed off each other.
When LaHair was asked the other day about what this final month could do for his career, he sounded like someone in a 12-step program: Im just trying to take one day at a time. This time he got one unforgettable night.
The Cashner Plan
The Cubs are still going to be cautious, but the wait is almost over for Andrew Cashner, whos expected to be available out of the bullpen on Wednesday night. This would mark his first time on a major-league mound in almost five months after straining his rotator cuff.
The plan is to use Cashner for an inning at a time, and not on back-to-back days. He wont be the power arm to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning look for him in lower-leverage situations.
Cashner, who turns 25 on Sunday, will get stretched out as a starter in the Arizona Fall League. He would be a game-changer for the 2012 rotation.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.