Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Former St. Petersburg College star now Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair's slow climb climaxes in All-Star selection

The All-Star rosters, as usual, feature some of the game's biggest names, such as the Rangers' Josh Hamilton, the Reds' Joey Votto and the Yankees' Derek Jeter.

And one of the most interesting: Cubs 1B Bryan LaHair.

The former St. Petersburg College star was one of the most unexpected selections, voted to the National League team by the players as a reserve.

"It gives you chills," LaHair said Sunday in Chicago. "You get a chance to quickly reflect, and I'm sure I'll reflect more later on, but you think about all the work you put in and the adversity you've been through and the different adventures you've had along the way to get your first opportunity in the big leagues, and now an All-Star Game is just incredible."

LaHair, 29, played at SPC in 2002, then was a 39th-round pick by Seattle. The Massachusetts native spent most of the next nine years in the minors before getting his first legitimate chance to play regularly this season, hitting .365 with nine homers and 20 RBIs through the first six weeks. He has cooled a bit and moved to rightfield to accommodate the promotion of 1B prospect Anthony Rizzo, but that didn't dim the accomplishment.

"It was a dream as a little boy to be an All-Star," LaHair said. "But to think it would happen this fast or if at all — it's really tough to get into that game."

Hamilton drew a record total of more than 11 million votes, and the slugger was among seven Rangers chosen. Three Giants and three Yankees also made the starting lineup.

Both Braves 3B Chipper Jones, who is retiring after the season, and Nationals rookie phenom Bryce Harper were left off the NL team but are on the ballot for the final spot. Online voting for the 34th man on both rosters continues at MLB.com through Thursday.

TORRE BACKS CLEMENS: Joe Torre said he believes RHP Roger Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame even though the seven-time Cy Young Award winner has been connected to performance-enhancing drugs.

The former Yankees manager, at Yankee Stadium for Old Timer's Day, said Clemens was like a son to him. "I can't make other people look at him. I can just tell you the way I feel," he said. "I was proud to have him play for me."

BRAVES SIGN SHEETS: Atlanta signed veteran RHP Ben Sheets to a minor-league contract after the oft-injured pitcher passed a physical. Sheets, 33, who last pitched in the majors in 2010, plans to report Wednesday to Double-A Mississippi.

STRASBURG OKAY: Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg said he was feeling much better a day after lasting three innings in the record-setting Atlanta heat. Thanks to a good night's sleep at the team hotel, Strasburg looked rested and relaxed in the clubhouse. "Yeah, as soon as I got back, I just hit the mattress and passed out," he said with a smile.

YANKS ADD RELIEVER: The Yankees acquired RHP Chad Qualls from the Phillies for a player to be named or future cash considerations. Qualls, 33, a former Ray, was designated for assignment last week after posting a 4.60 ERA in 31⅓ innings.

NO DEAL: The Dodgers pulled out of a proposed deal for Astros LF Carlos Lee, who had indicated he would not waive his no-trade clause.

INDIANS: C Carlos Santana sat out for a fourth straight game because of soreness in his back and side.

MARINERS: RHP Erasmo Ramirez went on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow flexor strain.

ORIOLES: LHP Brian Matusz was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk after losing his fifth straight start. Matusz has an 8.44 ERA over that span.

PIRATES: CF Andrew McCutchen sat out for precautionary reasons a day after injuring his left wrist.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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