Bulls

LaHair, Beliveau Honored By Cubs

LaHair, Beliveau Honored By Cubs

Tuesday Sept. 20, 2011
Posted: 7:00 p.m.

The Cubs announced infielderoutfielder Bryan LaHair and left-handed pitcher Jeff Beliveau were named the organizations Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

Beliveau and LaHair were honored tonight during an on-field ceremony prior to the Cubs contest at Wrigley Field against the Milwaukee Brewers.

LaHair, 28, was named the 2011 Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player after leading all of minor league baseball with an Iowa franchise-record 38 home runs. He also led the PCL with 76 extra-base hits, 303 total bases, a .664 slugging percentage, a 1.070 OPS and was tied for first in the league with 109 RBI. In addition to PCL Most Valuable Player honors, LaHair was named to the all-PCL Team and was named Iowa Cubs MVP. LaHair was also a mid-season PCL All-Star and participated in the Triple-A Home Run Derby.

The sluggers 38th home run set the Iowa franchise record, surpassing Joe Hicks in 1984, and he joined Mel Hall (1982) as only the second player in franchise history with at least 30 homers and 30 doubles in the same season. LaHair became only the seventh PCL player in the last 15 seasons to record at least 300 total bases. LaHair is the second Iowa Cubs player to earn Pacific Coast League MVP honors in the last five seasons, joining Geovany Soto (2007).

Beliveau, 24, combined to go 6-2 with five saves and a 1.57 ERA (13 ER74.1 IP) in 53 relief appearances between Single-A Daytona and Tennessee, which was his first career stint at Double-A. The lefthander combined to strike out 89 batters and issue only 19 walks in 74.1 innings, an average of 10.8 strikeouts and only 2.3 walks per nine innings, and limited opponents to a .192 batting average against.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Beliveau began the season with Daytona, where he went 0-1 with two saves and a 0.52 ERA (1 ER17.1 IP) in 12 relief outings to earn the promotion to Double-A. Beliveau went 6-1 with three saves and a 1.89 ERA (12 ER57.0 IP) in 41 relief appearances to help the Smokies to the Southern League championship round. With Tennessee, Beliveau limited opponents to a .183 batting average, including a .169 mark by lefties and a .191 by righties.

Originally selected by the Cubs in the 18th round of the 2008 Draft out of Florida Atlantic University, the Providence, R.I. native is 17-9 with 10 saves and a 2.69 ERA (81 ER270.2 IP) in four professional seasons in the Cubs organization. Beliveau will pitch for Team USA this fall.

Robin Lopez taking demotion in stride, wants to return to Chicago

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USA TODAY

Robin Lopez taking demotion in stride, wants to return to Chicago

Only an errant punch that missed the face of Serge Ibaka prevented Robin Lopez from suiting up for the Bulls since arriving in the summer of 2016, but his availability streak will come to an abrupt end as the Bulls are sitting and Justin Holiday for the foreseeable future.

Lopez didn’t dress for the Bulls’ game against the 76ers, as he and Holiday were replaced by Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba. Although he was jovial, cracking a few jokes when meeting with the media in pregame, it was clear he was disappointed.

“It was rough for me. I get it. I understand it,” Lopez said. “I always want to be out there playing on the court. That’s what I enjoy, especially playing with these guys. But I’m excited to watch these guys give it a go from the bench.”

With the Bulls being eighth in the lottery standings, Lopez understands the long-term objectives of the organization and said the conversation with the front office went as expected.

“I think pretty much what everybody else has heard,” Lopez said. “I was pulled aside. They told me they wanted to evaluate a few other guys, a few of the young guys. So I get it.”

Starting 138 of 139 games makes his streak ending a bit tougher to stomach, especially considering he didn’t find out about his certain inactivity until right before leaving for the United Center.

“I suppose that’s a little selfish of me, but a little bit,” said Lopez of sadness concerning the streak. “I looked in my closet today and thought I would have a glut of jackets. And I only found two. I didn’t realize this was an issue until about 5 minutes before I had to leave. So I got kind of a ragtag outfit for tonight but hopefully I’ll be better prepared in the games to come.”

Not only will he be armed with better wardrobe but he’ll be bringing a positive disposition to the sidelines that made him loved amongst his teammates.

“All my teammates, whether they’ve been playing with me or sitting on the bench and not dressing, they’ve all supported me,” Lopez said. “I don’t think I’d be too good a person if I didn’t do at least the bare minimum of the same.”

Lopez represented stability and veteran leadership in a tumultuous season, a solid performer when losing was the early norm and upheaval has been constant. It was a reason the Bulls hoped he would garner some interest in the trade market but after hitting for a draft pick in the Nikola Mirotic deal, they had no such luck with Lopez.

Naturally, he was asked about the prospect of being traded over sitting as a healthy scratch.

“That’s hard for me to talk about because I don’t know what situation I could have potentially been in once I had been traded,” Lopez said. “Yeah, it’s … I want to be playing obviously, but we’ve got a great group of guys right here.”

Considering how uncertain things will be for the future, it isn’t a guarantee Lopez won’t be around for the 2018-19 season.

“Yeah. It seems like they still like me. How could they not?,” he joked.

He’s due $14.3 million next season, the last of a four-year deal he signed with the Knicks in 2015. Averaging 12.3 points and shooting 53 percent from the field, he’s productive and valuable on the floor. He’s easy to dismiss with the hoopla surrounding the youth on the roster and the way things clicked when Mirotic stepped on the floor, but seven footers like Lopez aren’t easy to find—even as the game changes.

“I’m a team player. I like to think my play is tied to how the team plays,” Lopez said. “I think we had some really great stretches. The young guys really developed and found a rhythm once we all got healthy. I think we played pretty well.”

With 25 games remaining, he’s unsure of how long his inactivity will last but it’s hard to see him missing the remainder of the season. It would be a bad look for the Bulls and the league to have a healthy player miss two whole months, and Lopez claims no knowledge about that ugly “T” word.

“I’m not familiar with military artillery,” he said.

At least he’s keeping his sense of humor.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls complete 'the process'?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls complete 'the process'?

On today’s edition of STL Podcast, Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by Mark Schanowski, Nick Friedell and Vincent Goodwill to talk all things Bulls. Will the Bulls complete “The Process” as well as the visiting 76ers have so far? Our panel discusses the tank watch, recaps the epic Women’s Hockey Gold Medal game and much, much more.