Results tagged ‘ Josh Vitters ’
Ian Stewart was projected as the Cubs regular third baseman this season before he was injured in Spring Training and now he is playing for Triple-A Iowa. However, Stewart is not high on the organization’s depth chart at third base. Stewart said Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, told him that Josh Vitters, the team’s No. 1 Draft pick in 2007, would be getting most of the at-bats.
“[Vitters] is the priority, put it that way,” Dale Sveum said Tuesday. “Who knows about third baseman of the future, but he’s a priority to develop as that guy. The guy was a first-round pick and the guy can swing the bat. We still have to develop him with the thought of him being our third baseman some day. He’s got power, he can swing, he can hit a fastball. But there’s a lot of development left in him.”
Where does that leave Luis Valbuena, who is getting the majority of at-bats at third with the big league team? Vitters is 23 years old, Valbuena is 27, and Stewart is 28.
“If Valbuena keeps playing the way he is, he’s our third baseman,” Sveum said. “He’s doing a very nice job. That’s just what you do in the Minor Leagues, you develop people to be in that spot. Whether it happens [with Vitters], who knows? That’s usually up to the individual who you’re trying to develop. They’ll force your hand, one way or the other.”
Vitters, who has been battling a sore quad, was batting .259 for Iowa with two home runs and seven RBIs.
– Carrie Muskat
On Monday, Josh Vitters and Edwin Maysonet both homered to lead Iowa to a 6-1 victory over Oklahoma City. Maysonet finished with three RBIs, while Vitters hit a two-run homer in the seventh. Chris Rusin picked up the win in relief, giving up three hits over five scoreless innings. Matt Garza started in a rehab outing and gave up four hits over 3 1/3 innings, striking out three.
* Anthony Rizzo was in the Cubs’ lineup for Friday’s game against Team Japan, but now he was not expected back in Arizona in time. He’ll play Saturday when the Cubs face the Royals at HoHoKam Park. Rizzo was playing for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic in Miami, and they were eliminated with a 4-3 loss to Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Cubs manager Dale Sveum told Rizzo to enjoy Thursday with his family in Miami and then get back to Arizona.
* The Cubs made one roster move, and assigned pitcher Barret Loux to Minor League camp.
* Ian Stewart played in a Minor League game Thursday at the Cubs complex at Fitch Park. Josh Vitters subbed at third on Thursday and was slated to start Friday against Team Japan at HoHoKam Stadium. Neither had played since an intrasquad game Feb. 21, and both have been sidelined with sore left quads.
* You won’t see shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney very far from each other. The two hit in the same group in batting practice, they do their fielding drills at the same time, and they even have the same model glove, which Barney designed.
“They always have to be in the same group,” Sveum said of his middle infielders. “They have a routine that they got into last year that was good and obviously, the way they played, you don’t want to take them out of it.”
* The Cubs players are already talking about the prospect of having a fishing hole at their new Spring Training complex in east Mesa.
“We might have to have a fishing tournament,” Sveum said.
The facility will feature a 9,000 square foot weight room, which Sveum said some players may want to take advantage of year round. He couldn’t remember the Brewers having a weight room at all when he played for them.
“I never lifted weights,” Sveum said, “so I wouldn’t have known where the weight room was.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Hisanori Takahashi has pitched for the Mets, Angels and Pirates, coming to the U.S. Major Leagues in 2010. Has the Japanese left-hander given new Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa any tips on adjusting?
“I feel he’s an accomplished pitcher in Japan and since we’re from the same country, I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do over here,” Takahashi said Wednesday. “Some of the system, pitching-wise, might be a little different compared to what he’s used to in Japan. We’re kind of joking about stuff, and just having fun.”
Takahashi, 37, who is competing for a spot in the Cubs bullpen, made his first spring start and gave up three runs on five hits over three innings against the Rangers. He’s a non-roster invitee in Cubs camp, and didn’t know Fujikawa well.
“Him being an accomplished closer, I felt a closer has to be in his own world to do his job, and there was some mystery about him,” Takahashi said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. “Once I got to know him, he’s really friendly and a nice guy.”
Japanese ballplayers do train a little differently, but in exchange for longer days, they get an off day every fourth day. Takahashi did talk to Fujikawa about adjusting to the lifestyle in the U.S. Food isn’t a problem.
“There’s a lot of Japanese [restaurants] around, and I’m sure you guys all go for sushi,” Takahashi said.
The Phoenix area is well known for Mexican food.
“I love it,” Takahashi said.
* Fujikawa, Carlos Marmol, Shawn Camp and James Russell are locks for the bullpen. The Cubs will have to make a decision on Hector Rondon, the Rule 5 Draft pick, who threw one inning in relief Wednesday, giving up one hit and striking out one. He’s given up two hits over four innings in four games this spring. That leaves at least six players competing for two spots, including Takahashi, Blake Parker, Michael Bowden, Zach Putnam, Jensen Lewis, and Cory Wade. Parker missed most of last season because of an elbow injury.
“At this time last year, he opened your eyes a little bit with the life on his fastball,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Parker. “He has an above average slider that he can get swings and misses on. He’s interesting as well.”
* Brent Lillibridge is sidelined with a groin strain, injured one week ago. Lillibridge, a non-roster invitee who is competing for a spot on the bench, could return early next week. Being sidelined now doesn’t necessarily hurt his chances.
“He got to play,” Sveum said of Lillibridge who appeared in five games before he was injured. “It was nice before he got hurt that at least I got to see him at first, second, third and short. Toward the end he’ll play a little outfield.”
* Third basemen Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters, both sidelined with left quad strains, are making progress, and could get back in Cactus League games next week.
* Pitcher Matt Garza, still out with a strained left lat injured Feb. 17, apparently was feeling better.
“[Tuesday] was the most upbeat he’s been and the best he’s felt,” Sveum said, adding that the right-hander might try to play catch this weekend.
Garza was expected to miss the first month of the season.
– Carrie Muskat
* Josh Vitters also had an MRI on Friday, and it revealed that he has a mild to moderate quad strain, and could be sidelined 10 to 14 days. Vitters was injured before he got into a game — he was hurt doing a base running drill. What happens now at third with both Ian Stewart and Vitters sidelined? Expect to see a lot of Luis Valbuena, Junior Lake, Christian Villanueva and even Brent Lillibridge.
“We really don’t have a whole lot of other third basemen,” Dale Sveum said. “They both just went down.”
Lake played at Double-A Tennessee last season. He’s still a little rough at third.
“In the intrasquad games, he’s done fine,” Sveum said. “He hasn’t been tested. There’s some mechanical things. He’s very tall and playing tall. He’s got to play the position smaller. What I mean by that, he wants to stand straight up after he fields a ground ball, so there’s some things we have to tweak. He’s such a good athlete. He’s going to be one of those third basemen who’s not going to look like Scott Rolen but the athleticism will allow him to do a lot of things at that position.”
The Cubs will not move top prospect Javier Baez to third base. If he does play third, it will be more because of need numbers-wise.
* If you’re looking ahead to Sunday’s HoHoKam opener, here’s the lineup:
The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com, with Len Kasper doing the play by play.
* Cubs pitcher Shawn Camp was showing pictures of a bobcat he saw on the golf course on Friday. Camp said he let the ‘cat play through.
* Blake Parker’s intrasquad outing didn’t go well — he gave up three hits, including a three-run homer to Edwin Maysonet — but it felt good to get back on a mound. Parker missed most of last season because of problems with his right elbow.
“I’m still getting back into baseball mode, just thinking out there on the mound and knowing what pitches to throw and reading hitters,” Parker said. “As far as physically, my arm felt good.”
– Carrie Muskat
Dioner Navarro hit a two-run single and Ian Stewart added an RBI double in the first inning Thursday to help the Cubs’ White team beat the Blue team, 7-3, at HoHoKam Park.
Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler showed off his much touted bat speed when he launched a solo homer in the second inning. Brian Bogusevic added another in the fifth for the Blue team.
Soler, who turns 21 on Feb. 25, hasn’t played much organized baseball in the last two years. Spring is important to him.
“You play every day, you learn more about baseball,” Soler said through coach/interpreter Franklin Font.
He’s also aware of the interest in him from Cubs fans.
“I want to do everything on the field to do better, to get better for the Chicago Cubs,” Soler said.
Soler was in the same lineup and batting ahead of Javier Baez, another potential impact player, who was the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2011. Baez struck out, hit a run-scoring fielder’s choice, and got doubled off first. He also may be getting some extra infield work.
“A little shaky today,” Dale Sveum said of the shortstop’s defensive play. “It’s kind of young stuff that’s still there that has to be cleaned up, obviously. A lot of stuff, even stuff behind the scenes that everyone else doesn’t see that we have to see, some instinctive stuff.”
Soler will start in left field again on Friday in another five-inning intrasquad game at HoHoKam, which will be the final tuneup before the Cactus League season begins Saturday in Tempe against the Angels.
“It’s just nice seeing these guys play because we’ve all come across tool guys and bat speed and all that and it never seems to pan out,” Sveum said. “It’s nice to watch them, see how they react to things. [Soler] doesn’t seem like a real panic type guy.”
* Stewart was pulled from the game because of a “mild, slight, very little quad [strain],” Sveum said. Josh Vitters also was unavailable because of a left quad strain as well. Stewart appeared to injure his leg coming out of the batter’s box after hitting a double in the first inning.
“It doesn’t seem to be no big deal and it felt like a cramp,” Sveum said.
Both Stewart and Vitters were listed on Friday’s intrasquad lineup but that may change.
* Thursday highlights: Starlin Castro was 3-for-3, and Nate Schierholtz hit a solo homer and sac fly.
* Here’s the early lineup for Friday’s game:
Brett Jackson CF
Darnell McDonald LF
Rafael Lopez C
Junior Lake DH
Brian Bogusevic RF
Christian Villanueva 3B
Alberto Gonzalez 2B
Brad Nelson 1B
Javier Baez SS
Logan Watkins 2B
Matt Szczur CF
Steve Clevenger C
Johermyn Chavez RF
Josh Vitters 3B
Edwin Maysonett SS
Brent Lillibridge 1B
Jorge Soler LF
Ian Stewart DH
– Carrie Muskat
Josh Vitters is back home after a brief stint in Venezuela. He switched teams, leaving the Caracas squad after two games to play for an affiliate so he could get more playing time, the Cubs said. But Vitters has now returned to the U.S. to work out for the rest of the winter. Vitters, 23, batted .304 at Triple-A Iowa last season and was 12-for-99 (.121) in 36 games with the Cubs.
– Carrie Muskat
Tony Campana went 0-for-4 but did steal a base in his first game for Leones del Caracas in Venezuela winter league play on Tuesday. Campana, who led off, played left and center field. The speedy outfielder batted .264 with the Cubs and swiped a career-high 30 bases. Josh Vitters also is playing for Leones, did not play Tuesday. He’s 0-for-7 in two games.
Alberto Cabrera struck out four over two scoreless innings in relief for Toros del Este in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. Cabrera now has six Ks in 3 2/3 innings in two games.
– Carrie Muskat
* According to Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Dan Plesac told WGN on Friday that he’s withdrawing from consideration for the Cubs TV analyst job and will remain at MLB Network. There’s a new name in the mix: Astros broadcaster Jim Deshaies has reportedly interviewed for the Cubs TV analyst job, open after Bob Brenly left to join the Diamondbacks’ TV team.
Also, Doug Glanville is reportedly no longer being considered. The former big league outfielder is reportedly close to an extension with ESPN.
Who is Deshaies? A left-hander known as J.D., he pitched for 12 seasons, including seven with the Astros from 1985-91. His last game was an abbreviated start on July 30, 1995, at Wrigley Field. He gave up six runs on five hits, including a first inning home run by Todd Zeile and another blast in the second by Jose Hernandez over 1 1/3 innings as the Cubs rolled to an 8-0 win over the Phillies. Deshaies reportedly holds the Major League record for most at-bats without an extra-base hit (373). Deshaies just completed his 15th season as color analyst for the Astros.
Brenly did not have a direct Cubs tie, playing all but one season with the Giants.
* The Dallas Morning News reports free agent relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa visited Wrigley Field and the Cubs’ facilities. Fujikawa also has talked to the Rangers, Diamondbacks, Angels and Dodgers, and all have some level of interest. The 32-year-old right-hander has compiled a 1.77 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 914 strikeouts and 220 saves over 692 1/3 career innings for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan.
* Josh Vitters and Tony Campana are both playing in the Venezuela Winter League for Caracas. Vitters has started one game at third and was 0-for-3.
* Tuesday is the deadline for Major League teams to finalize their 40-man rosters.
– Carrie Muskat
Junior Lake went 2-for-5 on Wednesday, and was batting .361 for Estrellas de Oriente, leading the Dominican winter league in batting average. Lake has two home runs, six doubles and 10 RBIs. Christian Villanueva, whom the Cubs got from the Rangers in the Ryan Dempster deal, was batting .206 for Yaquis de Obregon in Mexican league action. He was 2-for-3 on Tuesday, hitting his second home run.
Josh Vitters was listed on the roster for Leones del Caracas in Venezuela, but has yet to play. Tony Campana also has joined Leones. In Venezuela, Luis Valbuena was hitting .318 with one home run and seven doubles in 19 games with Cardenales de Lara while Ty Wright was batting .247 with three doubles, two triples and one home run in 20 games for Tigres de Aragua.
– Carrie Muskat