The first baseman, who is 1-for-20 in his last seven games, did not start against the Astros to get what Cubs manager Dale Sveum called a "mental breather." LaHair has started 36 of 43 games, but he did enter as a defensive sub in the sixth.
"He's never really gone through this mental grind in the big leagues and played this many games in a row," Sveum said.
LaHair, batting .315 overall, took early batting practice and also was able to work out in the weight room and on the field before the game. Can he explain the last few games?
"I've had some rough luck for a few games there where I had no results," said LaHair, whose 10 home runs lead all regular first basemen in the Majors. "I thought I was having good at-bats. A couple games against the White Sox, I just didn't feel good at the plate. Last night, I gave the first at-bat away and I was [ticked] about that, and then I just missed a three-run homer [in the third]. It is what it is, it's baseball. Everybody goes through it. I go through it a couple times a year. I feel like I'm one click away from getting back to where I was."
He felt as if he knew what to expect but didn't react. Take Monday against the Astros' Bud Norris.
"I could've bet my life the second pitch would be a curveball, and for whatever reason, I just didn't swing and I knew it would be there," LaHair said. "Just like my second at-bat -- I knew the first pitch would be a fastball and I just missed it."
The early batting-practice session was loud, as players hit more than a few balls into the empty outfield seats.
"It's always nice to take early BP in parks like this," Sveum said. "Sometimes that's what it takes."
Even Tony Campana, more likely to get an inside-the-park home run than launch one over the fence, was able to drop a ball into the seats.
"Like I said, it's nice to take early BP here," Sveum said, smiling.