Why Bryan LaHair never says, 'I told you so'

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Why Bryan LaHair never says, 'I told you so'

KANSAS CITY There have been so many microphones in Bryan LaHairs face that you wondered if at any point he wanted to scream: I told you so.
LaHair didnt last beyond his freshman year at Clemson University, and wound up at St. Petersburg College. He fell to the 39th round of the 2002 draft. The Seattle Mariners a team desperate for offense at Safeco Field released him. The Cubs didnt give him a real chance until the age of 29, after more than 3,600 at-bats in the minors. He could have gone to Japan to make some good money.
So the All-Star Game would seem like an ideal platform to fire back at anyone who doubted him along the way.
You aint going to hear that from me, LaHair said Tuesday. I wont say that. Im not a I told you so kind of guy. Im just grateful for all the opportunities Ive been given. Its just obviously a different road to get here. But you dont want to have enemies in this game.
So LaHair probably wont take this as a slight: Tony La Russa replacing Joey Votto at first base with David Freese in the fifth inning. Freese a third baseman and World Series MVP for La Russas St. Louis Cardinals last season had only played nine games at first base since 2009.
Instead, LaHair ran out there two innings later and followed Ryan Dempsters advice: Take as much stuff as you can. He made sure to get his bat and jersey signed by his teammates.
LaHair, of course, doesnt even play first base for the Cubs anymore. That job went to Anthony Rizzo, who might keep it for the next decade, as soon as he was promoted from Triple-A Iowa two weeks ago. LaHair patiently answered all the Rizzo questions and explained how much those two big left-handed bats could do damage in the same lineup.
LaHair thinks his sense of calm and purpose can be traced back, in part, to the visualization exercises he began years ago in the Mariners system with Dr. Jack Curtis, a sports psychologist who began consulting for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1987, when future Cubs manager Dale Sveum played there.
I just know that if you believe you can do something, LaHair said, and you put your mind to doing something, youre capable of doing it. I know that if you put those visions in your head consistently of having successit just ends up being dj vu, because youve seen it happen before it happened.
The players voted LaHair onto the All-Star team during a first half in which he hit .286 with 14 homers and 30 RBI. He says he continues to work with team psychologist Dr. Marc Strickland, who divides his time between the Cubs and the minor-league affiliates and is seen around the batting cage and in the clubhouse.
We just go in a quiet room and close my eyes, LaHair said. I talk to him about what my plan is for that day or how I want to keep it moving forward. We just kind of go through at-bats and situations that may appear.
LaHair will picture that nights starting pitcher or how the game might unfold. He does it once or twice a series, sometimes on his own.
Most of the time when Im finished, LaHair said, I open my eyes and I get ready (and) I feel really relaxed.
Theres a difference between being relaxed and being too comfortable, and LaHair definitely isnt resting on this All-Star trip. He wants to play 10 years in the big leagues. How he responds in the second half will be one of the storylines to watch around the Cubs.
You got to make adjustments to perform and stay here and have success in the long term, Sveum said. The guys on the other side of the fence learn how to pitch you and all that. So you need to make adjustments on a constant basis around here to learn how to deal with this kind of pitching on an everyday basis.
LaHair still has to prove that he can hit left-handers and do it for an entire season. He knows how hard this game is, and how cold the business can be, which is why he wont tell the world: I told you so. Hes going to close his eyes and look at the big picture.
Youre not going to go 4-for-4 every day (or) hit three balls off the wall at Wrigley, LaHair said. Hopefully, it works enough to where you have enough success to where Im sitting here today.

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As he surveyed the landscape this offseason, Peter Bourjos thought he and the White Sox would make for a good fit.

Adam Eaton had been traded and Austin Jackson departed via free agency, leaving the White Sox with Melky Cabrera and several young players to man a thin outfield. Bourjos, who lived in Chicago until second grade, pursued the White Sox and last month agreed to terms on a minor-league deal in hopes of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Bourjos, who was born in Chicago, hit .251/.292/.389 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 383 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I always liked playing in Chicago,” Bourjos said. “It was a good fit and then spring training is here. I have two young kids. So packing them up and going to Florida wasn’t something I wanted to do either.

“We definitely look at all those options on paper. Evaluate what might be the best chance of making a team and this is definitely one of them. It seems like a good fit on paper.”

If he’s healthy enough, Charlie Tilson will get the first crack at the everyday job in center field. Tilson, who missed the final two months of last season with a torn hamstring, is currently sidelined for 10 days with foot problems. Beyond Tilson, the White Sox have prospects Adam Engel and Jacob May with Cabrera slated to start in left field and Avisail Garcia pegged for right. Leury Garcia is also in the mix.

But there still appears to be a good shot for Bourjos to make the club and manager Rick Renteria likes his veteran presence for the young group. Bourjos has accrued six seasons of service time between the Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.

“Bourjy has been around,” Renteria said. “He knows what it takes. He understands the little nuances of major-league camp and how we have so many players and we want to give them all a look. We want to see Bourjos, we want to see him out there.”

Bourjos, who turns 30 in March, has an idea what he wants to do with his chance. A slick defensive outfielder, Bourjos wants to prove he’s a better hitter than his .243/.300/.382 slash line would suggest. He said it’s all about being relaxed.

“Offensively just slow everything down and not try to do too much,” Bourjos said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and it hasn’t translated. I think last year I got in a spot where I just tried to relax in the batter’s box and let everything go and what happened happened. I had success with that.

“I now realize what that feels like and it doesn’t work. Just take a deep breath and be relaxed in the box and good things are going to happen.”

Why Brett Anderson called Cubs fans ‘f------ idiots’ and loves the idea of pitching at Wrigley Field

Why Brett Anderson called Cubs fans ‘f------ idiots’ and loves the idea of pitching at Wrigley Field

MESA, Ariz. – On an October night where you could literally feel Wrigley Field shaking, Brett Anderson fired off a message on his personal Twitter account: "Real classy cubs fans throwing beer in the Dodgers family section. Stay classy f------ idiots."
 
The Cubs had just clinched their first National League pennant since the year World War II ended, beating Clayton Kershaw and playing as close to a perfect game as they had all season. Anderson kept up the entertaining commentary during the World Series, previewing Game 7 – "We can all agree that we're happy it's not Joe West behind the plate tomorrow" – and tweaking his future manager: "Aroldis (Chapman) might puke on the mound from exhaustion." 
 
In another generation, a veteran pitcher might walk into a new clubhouse and wonder about any awkwardness with a hitter he once drilled with a fastball or some bad blood from a bench-clearing brawl. But overall today's players share the same agents, work out together in the same warm-weather offseason spots and understand the transient nature of this business. When pregame batting practice is filled with fist bumps, bro hugs and small talk between opponents, it becomes trying to remember what you said on social media. 
 
"I'm kind of a sarcastic ass on Twitter," Anderson said Monday. "I kind of sit back and observe. I'm not a huge talker in person. But I can kind of show some of my personality and candor on some of those things.
 
"You look at stuff (when) you get to a new team. I'm like: ‘Wow, man, did I say anything about anybody that's going to piss them off?' But I think the only thing I said about the players is that Kyle (Hendricks) looks like he could have some Oreos and milk after pitching in the World Series. 
 
"But that's kind of the guy he is. Just the calmness that he shows is something that we can all try to strive for."
 
Anderson essentially broke the news of his signing – or at least tipped off the media to look for confirmations – with a "Wheels up to Chicago" tweet in late January. The Cubs guaranteed $3.5 million for the chance to compete against Mike Montgomery and see which lefty can grab the fifth-starter job. Anderson could max out with $6.5 million more in incentives if he makes 29 starts this season. 
 
After undergoing surgery to repair a bulging disc in his lower back last March, Anderson made three starts and didn't earn a spot on the NLCS roster.  
 
"I obviously wasn't in the stands," Anderson said. "Supposedly from what I was told – it could be a different story – but there was just some beers thrown on where the families were. I'm going to stick to my family and my side.  
 
"I wasn't calling out the whole stadium. (It wasn't): ‘Screw you, Cubs fans.' It was just the specific (incident) – whoever threw the beers on the family section. Everybody has their fans that are kind of rowdy and unruly.

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"That just happened to be a situation. But you like those people on your side. I played in Oakland, and they had some of the rowdiest fans. In the playoffs, it seemed like ‘The Black Hole' for the Raiders games.
 
"You have your bad seeds in every fan base. When people are rowdy and cheering on their team and have one too many beers, the next thing you know, you're throwing them.
 
"Just visiting (Wrigley), it's a fun crowd, because it's such an intimate setting and you feel like they're right on top of you and it's so loud." 
 
Imagine the matchup nightmare the Dodgers could've been if their pitching staff hadn't been so top-heavy and manager Dave Roberts could've confidently gone to someone other than Kershaw, Rich Hill or closer Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers had made Anderson the qualifying offer after a solid 2015 season – 10-9, 3.69 ERA, 180-plus innings, a 66.7 groundball percentage – and he grabbed the $15.8 million guarantee. 
 
Anderson turned around and did the knock-on-wood motion at his locker, saying he felt good after completing a bullpen session with catcher Willson Contreras at the Sloan Park complex. Anderson is a Tommy John survivor who's also gone on the disabled list for a stress fracture in his right foot, a broken left index finger and a separate surgery on his lower back.
 
"Yeah, it's frustrating," Anderson said. "When I'm healthy and able to go out there and do my work, I feel like I'm a pretty good pitcher. I don't think I've ever been able to put everything as a whole together in one season. I've had some good spots – and some good seasons here and there – but hopefully I can put it all together and have a healthy season and do my part."
 
The Cubs are such a draw that Shane Victorino signed a minor-league deal here last year – even with more than $65 million in career earnings and even after a fan dumped a beer on him while he tried to catch a flyball at Wrigley Field in 2009.   
 
Anderson wanted to play for a winner and understood the organization's pitching infrastructure. He saw his pitching style as a match for the unit that led the majors in defensive efficiency last year. He was even intrigued by Camp Maddon and the wacky stunts in Mesa.  
 
"It's obviously an uber-talented group," Anderson said. "(It's also) seeing the fun that they're having. I'm more on the calm and cerebral side, but I think doing some of the things that these guys have in store for me will hopefully open me up a little bit and break me out of my shell. 
 
"'Uncomfortable' is a good word, especially for me. You don't want to get complacent. You don't want to get used to rehab. You want to go out there and do new things and try new things and meet new people and have new experiences. All things considered, the Cubs offered the best mix of everything."