LaHair gets call to Majors
First-base prospect will see plenty of at-bats vs. right-handers
SEATTLE -- Bryan LaHair was at home in Arizona enjoying the All-Star break when he got the call from his Triple-A Tacoma manager, Daren Brown."[He] told me that there was practice, that I needed to come back for practice, and I asked him what the time was because I had a flight for tonight," LaHair said Thursday, sitting next to his new locker in the Mariners clubhouse.
"And he said the practice isn't in Tacoma, it's in Seattle. I can't say what I said, but I was pretty excited about the situation."Although LaHair had not yet been activated, he'll be joining the big club after the Mariners optioned infielder Tug Hulett back to Tacoma following a short stint that included his Major League debut on July 12 and first hit. LaHair, who bats left and throws right, has been playing a solid first base for Tacoma this season, hitting .263 with 12 homers, 53 RBIs and a .357 on-base percentage. After the Mariners released Richie Sexson on July 10, LaHair began getting calls from people asking whether he was moving up. "I don't know if I was anxious, I just think that I felt like maybe the opportunity was getting a little bit closer," he said. "I still didn't want to let my guard down as far as practicing and just getting better each day." LaHair figures to give Seattle some defense at first and some pop in the lineup. Manager Jim Riggleman said LaHair would have been called up earlier, but he was dealing with turf toe on his left foot. "It just so happens we're going to face there lefties in a row here, so this first few days he'll ... probably get a game in there, probably not start three games," Riggleman said. "We just want to see what he can do. He's done some pretty good things in the Minor Leagues the last couple years." LaHair has seen Tacoma teammates Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement struggle during their callups, and hopes to avoid similar struggles. "I think I just want to be myself," he said. "I just kind of want to do what I do, and just stay focused and determined like I've always been and hopefully everything that I've worked on at this point kind of just takes over and I'm able to have success." Clement has had a close-up look at LaHair's talent for a few years. "In 2006 we both started in [Double-A] San Antonio -- it was a tough park to hit," he said. "And I think he was hitting like .350 and I didn't know how he wasn't hitting like .500. Because it just seemed like every out he made was a lineout or a deep flyout ... he's a complete player, for sure." When asked about changes in the Mariners' regular lineup, Riggleman said the main one would be LaHair getting plenty of opportunities against right-handed pitching, and lefties, too, at times.
Jesse Baumgartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.