Japanese teams interested in Bryan LaHair if the Cubs aren’t

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Last week I wondered whether the Cubs would give Triple-A MVP Bryan LaHair a legitimate opportunity in the majors and the answer so far is yes, as the 28-year-old has played in nine games while batting .458 with six extra-base hits in 24 at-bats.

Of course, he’ll come back down to earth eventually and it remains to be seen if the Cubs have LaHair in their 2012 plans. If they don’t, Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that he’ll have no problem finding work in Japan:

According to scouting sources, numerous Japanese teams have been scouting and are prepared to make offers to LaHair, if he becomes a free agent following the 2011 season. LaHair said he has had conversations with some representatives of Japanese baseball.

It may be a moot point, as the Cubs could retain LaHair by keeping him on the 40-man roster and still not decide to give him an extended shot in Chicago, but as Levine notes they did sell Micah Hoffpauir to a Japanese team last year for $200,000.

LaHair told Levine that he’s intrigued by the possibility of playing in Japan, in part because the money would be significantly better than at Triple-A, “but the dream is to be in the major leagues and this is where I want to be.” He doesn’t project as a star or anything, but hitting .338 with 38 homers at Triple-A should earn a guy a couple hundred at-bats to prove himself.

Ken Giles: ‘I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston’

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Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”

Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”

Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.