8/20 Vitters keeps learning
Josh Vitters and Darwin Barney were intently studying the video of Monday’s game in the clubhouse. They weren’t replaying Vitters’ first Major League home run but examining the rookie third baseman’s throwing technique. It’s all part of the learning process for the young Cubs, who lost, 9-5, to the Brewers. The Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2007, Vitters hit his first home run with two outs in the fifth to open a 3-1 lead. He entered the game with three hits in 33 at-bats, including one double, and launched a 3-2 pitch from Mark Rogers (1-1) over the left-field fence.
“It felt really good,” Vitters said. “It’s just a shame it couldn’t have been more.”
Vitters has been described as a fastball hitter. The good news for the Cubs is he connected on an off-speed pitch.
“He was hammering me with breaking balls all day so it was nice to finally make the adjustment and get to one,” Vitters said.
A pastor from a Lutheran church who is a huge Cubs fan apparently caught the ball and returned the souvenir to Vitters hoping to get a chance to sing the national anthem before a game at Wrigley Field in exchange. Vitters got the ball. We’ll have to wait and see if the pastor sings.
Dale Sveum, who is more of a teacher than manager this season, was happy for Vitters but then reminded the media of the day’s lesson: productive outs. In the first, David DeJesus doubled but Vitters struck out rather than advance the runner.
“That’s what they’re here for — to see Major League breaking balls and evaluate them to go to the next step,” Sveum said of the young roster.
And learn how to be better defensively. Vitters owes first baseman Anthony Rizzo lunch after saving a couple of his throws. That’s what prompted Barney’s post-game tutoring.
“Barney’s a veteran guy, which sounds weird, but it’s awesome — what better guy to get advice from than one of the better second basemen in the game?” Vitters said of Barney, 26, who is leading the National League in fielding percentage in his second full season at second.
“They’ve been through everything,” Vitters said of the few veterans. “I love getting [tips], feeding off it. There’s always stuff to work on. That’s what I focus on is things I need to improve on.”
— Carrie Muskat