8/30 Vitters’ growing pains

Luis Valbuena started at third base for the Cubs on Thursday, and may be getting more playing time in the final month than Josh Vitters, which is a switch from Dale Sveum’s plan a short time ago. Vitters was batting .093 (5-for-54) with 19 strikeouts and hitless in his last four games.

“I’ll still mix and match,” Sveum said. “You might see Valbuena in there a little bit more. We’re just giving Vitters some time to kick back here now and see what happens. You’re trying to evaluate but you’re trying to win ballgames at the same time. We’re having trouble scoring runs, period, so the at-bats — Valbuena is getting on base, he’s swinging the bat well, playing good defense.”

Sveum admitted it’s a change from earlier.

“I have shifted gears a little that way because we’re not getting anything out of that position,” Sveum said. “A guy who hasn’t struck out much is striking out quite a bit and not making contact. We’re just going to evaluate and keep plugging along to determine what do we have and moving forward and evaluating these guys in situations that hopefully they’re going to succeed.”

Vitters is working hard, getting extra time in the cage with hitting coach James Rowson.

“I can hit at the Major League level now,” Vitters said. “There’s always adjustments that need to be made. I’m working on making strides to be where I need to be next year.”

Part of that is developing a game plan every at-bat and sticking to it, plus trusting himself. He was batting .304 at Triple-A when called up on Aug. 5 but said he wasn’t consistent.

“It’s the same story now,” he said. “I’m hoping the hot part comes or I can find a way to be more even through the whole season.”

His splits at Iowa: .261 in April, .284 in May, .324 in June, .301 in July. His strikeout numbers did increase — he went from 10 in 20 games in April to 29 in 27 games in July.

 — Carrie Muskat

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