LaHair hopes output secures place with Cubs
Right fielder boasts .327 average through 18 games since callup
ST. LOUIS -- Bryan LaHair feels comfortable at the plate and in right field. Now, it's just a question of whether he's done enough to fit into the Cubs' lineup.
LaHair owns a .327 average in 18 games since being called up.
"I'm just having fun enjoying it and going day to day," he said.
There is one school of thought that it's tough to evaluate players in September. LaHair hit a Triple-A Iowa franchise-record 38 homers and led the Pacific Coast League with 109 RBIs this season. His .331 batting average in the Minors ranked seventh in the league. Shouldn't that be enough?
"I am who I am," LaHair said. "The kind of hitter I am is the kind of hitter I am. I'm going to keep working hard to put good at-bats together, and as long as I'm hitting balls hard, I think good things will happen."
LaHair isn't strictly a pull hitter -- that didn't start until a couple of years ago, he said -- but he does hit to the opposite field.
"Being able to hit the ball to the opposite field allows you to hit .300," he said. "I'm not going to lose that, that's my swing. I get my hits that way."
The Cardinals employed a modified shift against LaHair. It's almost as if they can't decide whether to use one or not.
"At the same time, I'm getting a lot of different pitches," LaHair said. "They're not just throwing me fastballs. They're throwing inside, outside, throwing back and forth. Right now, I'm trying to make adjustments as quick as possible. I think the more I see these pitches and the more I play against these teams, the better I'm going to get."
Closing duties would not have fallen to Marmol
ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Marmol would not have been asked to close Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Cardinals. The Cubs' right-hander needed a day to regroup.
Marmol blew his Major League-leading 10th save in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Cardinals. He now has a 5.79 ERA against St. Louis this season, and a 5.72 ERA against National League Central foes.
"Injuries happen, and struggles we had in the four-, five-spot I understand," said Cubs manager Mike Quade. "'Marm's' struggles have been more than I thought they would be. The main thing is to find a way to get him back on track. Here we are at the end of the season, and we have a long winter to find that out."
Marmol walked three batters in the ninth on Saturday, the third time this season he's done that.
"It's all about command, and yesterday he didn't have command of either pitch," Quade said. "I find it amazing he was one pitch away from getting out of it."
Jeff Samardzija was an option to be called on to close Sunday.
Aramis unlikely to be available until Tuesday
ST. LOUIS -- Aramis Ramirez was not expected to be available until Tuesday, and there is a chance the Cubs' third baseman may be limited to pinch-hit duties for the final three games.
Ramirez is bothered by a strained right quad, which forced him out of last Tuesday's game aginst the Brewers.
"I think it's solely up to him, and if he feels he can help us or not," Cubs manager Mike Quade said before Sunday's finale against the Cardinals. "We'll let him determine how he feels physically."
Ramirez ranks seventh in the National League with a .306 average and has 25 homers and 92 RBIs.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has a chance of becoming the youngest player, and first 21-year-old, to lead the National League in hits.
Castro will be 21 years, 188 days old when the season ends on Wednesday. Before this year, the youngest NL hits champion was another Cubs player, Charlie Hollocher, who was 22 years, 83 days old in 1918, when he led the NL with 161 hits.
Castro, who has 203 base hits, would be the third Cubs player in the last seven seasons to lead the NL in hits, joining Juan Pierre in 2006 and Derrek Lee in '05.
Carlos Peña has 99 walks, third-most in the NL, which is a modern-day record (since 1900) for most walks in a season by a Cubs first baseman. Mark Grace had 95 walks in 2000.
Jeff Samardzija has eight wins out of the bullpen this season, the most by a Cubs reliever since Lee Smith won nine games in 1986. Could Samardzija transition to the rotation?
"I haven't thought that far ahead," said Cubs manager Mike Quade. "He's been such a valuable part of the bullpen. With a new [general manager], I don't know what kind of things might take place this winter. It's not out of the question."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.