MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said the team is confident in starting first baseman Bryan LaHair, who is starting spring training as the team’s cleanup hitter, but he told 670 The Score’s Barry Rozner and Connor McKnight “the lineup is still very much a work in progress.”
Hoyer, who was hired as the right-hand man to new president of operations Theo Epstein after Jim Hendry was fired last year, said all the praise he and Epstein have received has been humbling, but he thinks the focus needs to switch to the players.
“It really is humbling and I’m really happy about it. I think that, for all of us, I think we feel like the best thing will be, starting today, people will start talking about games and start talking about players,” Hoyer said. “People should be talking about the players. The more they talk about guys in collared shirts, I think the worse we are off.”
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The Cubs have lost two of their best power hitters in the offseason — third baseman Aramis Ramirez and first baseman Carlos Pena — and LaHair is being tapped as the cleanup hitter for now, despite only 195 major league at-bats.
“You know, the lineup is still very much a work in progress.” “What happens today, in the first game of spring training, or the first couple weeks, you know, it may be different against Washington; and, you know, that may be different two weeks later.”
But Hoyer the team is confident LaHair will be a threat at the plate.
“He’s a guy with big power and, you know, I think you want to have a guy like that in the middle of the lineup,” Hoyer said. “You know, where he hits, I’m not sure, but we certainly have a lot of confidence in him.”
First base prospect Anthony Rizzo is expected to start the season in the minors, but could challenge for the starting spot if LaHair struggles or Rizzo gets off to a hot start in Triple-A Iowa. But Hoyer said he already rushed Rizzo to the majors once when he was with San Diego when he was mashing the ball in the minors, but struggled in the majors and hit only .141 in 128 at-bats last year, so Hoyer is in no rush to bring Rizzo to the majors again.