Cubs sticking with LaHair to give Rizzo time

Cubs sticking with LaHair to give Rizzo time

Cubs sticking with LaHair to give Rizzo time
MESA, Ariz. -- Bryan LaHair is batting .189 this spring while Anthony Rizzo is hitting .375. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer insisted LaHair is their first baseman and Rizzo needs more time.

LaHair spent Monday at the Cubs' Minor League camp, getting nine at-bats in a game.

"The guy had such a great year last year, there's no reason to think he won't snap out of it," Hoyer said of LaHair, who led the Pacific Coast League with 38 homers. "Maybe he's having the worst two weeks of his year -- hopefully he is. It's not something to worry about."

Rizzo is waiting in the wings. Hoyer repeated on Tuesday in a chat with Cubs beat writers that the highly touted first baseman, whom he has now traded for twice, will open the season in the Minor Leagues, as will top prospect Brett Jackson.

"You want to finish those guys off the right way," Hoyer said. "They're not finished products yet. Our goal is to make sure these guys play in Chicago for a long time and are finished products. We have to take the long-term view of that, more than anything. You don't want to rush a guy and ruin his confidence and then spend a year and a half rebuilding that confidence."

Hoyer and Jason McLeod, the Cubs' scouting and player development director, will always be linked to Rizzo. They drafted him when the two were in the Red Sox's front office, traded for him when both were in San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, and acquired him again from the Padres for Andrew Cashner.

"Jason, Theo [Epstein] and I all believe he has the ability to be a middle-of-the-order bat for a long time," Hoyer said. "He's 22 years old. We think we'll get the best years out of Anthony."