Results tagged ‘ Josh Vitters ’

9/25 Extra bases

* Dave Sappelt could be the next Reed Johnson on the Cubs. Sappelt, who batted leadoff on Tuesday for the first time this season, is trying to impress the Cubs that he could handle the role that Johnson filled, which was providing a right-handed bat off the bench plus someone who could sub in the outfield. He made a good impression Tuesday, hitting his first Major League home run in the first.

“Since he’s been here, he’s shown us some realy good at-bats and shown the ability to hit a fastball and get his walks as well,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday. “I thought I’d stick him in that leadoff spot and see what happens.”

A right-handed batter, Sappelt was hitting .333 against left-handed pitchers in 18 at-bats since he was called up from Triple-A Iowa Sept. 1. At Iowa, Sappelt batted .331 against left-handers and .236 against right-handed pitching. Johnson opened the year with the Cubs but was dealt at the Trade Deadline to the Braves.

* Sveum has recommended to third baseman Josh Vitters and outfielder Tony Campana that they consider playing winter ball.

“The more you play, the better you’re going to be,” Sveum said Tuesday. “I think some people nowadays use the winters too much sometimes to work out and rest when you can go play instructional league or [Arizona Fall League] or winter leagues. There’s no substitute for playing.”

Sveum said he and the front office have talked about having Brett Jackson spend the winter working on some of the adjustments they want him to make rather than play.

* Arodys Vizcaino, whom the Cubs acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal, was at Coors Field Tuesday to workout. Vizcaino is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and will be ready to pitch in Spring Training but Sveum said the right-hander is a starter candidate for 2014.

“He’s going to come into Spring Training ready to pitch but we’ll baby him through everything,” Sveum said. “We’ll baby that situation as much as you can and have him ready for the next season.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/16 Vitters still has work to do

Rookie Josh Vitters has been starting at third base against left-handed pitchers but Cubs manager Dale Sveum instead inserted Luis Valbuena in the lineup Sunday against the Pirates’ Jeff Locke.
Vitters still has work to do on his defense, and Sveum wanted a good glove behind starter Chris Volstad.

“It’s the routine plays that seem to be giving [Vitters] him the most problem,” Sveum said. “The spontaneous plays, he’s made all those and in great fashion. He’s gotten up and made good throws on the dives and body control plays. He’s gotten a lot better since the first day I saw him.”

One bad habit Vitters has developed is watching the baserunner when he fields a ground ball, which Sveum said will get a fielder “out of whack right away.”

“On routine plays, he wants to look at the runner and pick up the first baseman and it kind of throws the rhythm off,” Sveum said.

Are the problems mental or mechanical for the young third baseman?

“You never really know,” Sveum said.

– Carrie Muskat

9/13 Cubs Inbox

Got a question for the Cubs Inbox? Send it to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your full name and hometown.

Q: The 2012 season isn’t over with but I’d like to think next year will be better. My question is what do you think the 2013 Opening Day lineup will look like? — Ty S., West Des Moines, IA

A: Here’s an early guess:

RF David DeJesus

2B Darwin Barney

1B Anthony Rizzo

LF Alfonso Soriano

SS Starlin Castro

After that, I don’t know. These final weeks are huge for players like Welington Castillo, Steve Clevenger, Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters and Luis Valbuena.

Q: It’s time to start purchasing jerseys for the future. Before I buy a Josh Vitters or Brett Jackson uniform, what are the chances they change their numbers? — Clay B., Paris, IL

A: Clubhouse manager Tom Hellmann asks the young players each spring what number they’d like if they make it to the big leagues, and since Vitters and Jackson were given single digits, not No. 88 or No. 75, I’d guess they’ll stick with Nos. 5 and 7, respectively. That said, you never know what will happen if the Cubs sign a veteran, and he has always worn No. 5.

Q: Against the Reds on Aug. 9, Steve Clevenger was ejected during an at-bat and replaced with Welington Castillo. Castillo struck out, which was charged to Clevenger. To whom would a walk, hit, put out or other play be charged? — Marvin W., Bellingham, WA

A: If Castillo had walked or gotten a hit or grounded out, he would’ve been credited. According to Rule 10.17 (b): When the batter leaves the game with two strikes against him, and the substitute batter completes a strikeout, charge the strikeout and the time at-bat to the first batter. If the substitute batter completes the turn at-bat in any other manner, including a base on balls, score the action as having been that of the substitute batter.

Q: Would you know the dates for next year’s Cubs Convention? — Ben

A: Jan. 18-20, 2013.

Q: What is the all-time (not single-season) record of error-less games played by an infielder? — Ethan J., Chicago

A: According to the Elias Sports Bureau:

1B: Casey Kotchman, 274 games, 2008-2010

2B: Placido Polanco, 186 games, 2006-08

3B: Jeff Cirillo, 99 games, 2001-02, and John Wehner, 99 games, 1992-2000

SS: Mike Bordick, 110 games, 2002

Q: How do you feel about Adam Greenberg trying to make a comeback? Is there any chance now that the Cubs are out of the playoffs they will give Adam a chance? — Yoel G., Hollywood, FL

A: For Greenberg to play for a Major League team, it would mean someone would have to be taken off the 40-man roster. I was there when Greenberg was hit, and certainly hoped he would have another at-bat. Right now, it feels like a publicity stunt.

Q: I know the new management wants to build the club from within and help improve the club by improving the Minor League system but do you think they could at least bring in a couple free agent pitchers to help some of the young guys develop? I don’t know how beneficial it is for players like Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin to be lit up by Major League lineups when they are clearly not ready. — Joe S., Lansing, MI

A: I wish pitchers like Rusin and Raley and Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood had someone like Ryan Dempster or Paul Maholm around to help them deal with the ups and downs in the big leagues. The front office will likely look at adding more experience for the rotation next season, either through free agency or a trade. What you hope is that Raley and Rusin learn from this experience, learn what they need to do, and become better for it.

– Carrie Muskat

9/10 Cubs lineup

Here’s Monday’s lineup vs. the Astros:

Mather CF

Barney 2B

Rizzo 1B

Soriano LF

Castro SS

Castillo C

Vitters 3B

Sappelt RF

Volstad P

 

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

8/27 Cubs lineup

Josh Vitters is back in the Cubs lineup, playing third, as they open a four-game series against the Brewers. Milwaukee has had the edge this season, posting a 10-3 record so far. This week is their last meeting of the year. Justin Germano takes the mound. He lost to the Brewers last Monday at Miller Park, giving up seven runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus RF

Vitters 3B

Rizzo 1B

Soriano LF

Castro SS

Clevenger C

Jackson CF

Barney 2B

Germano P

– Carrie Muskat

8/21 Cubs lineup

Chris Rusin makes his Major League debut Tuesday night for the Cubs against the Brewers. The lefty will be the 16th rookie to play for the Cubs this year, and 10th player to make his ML debut this season on the team. Of the 16 rookies, he is the ninth rookie pitcher. The Cubs last had more than 10 players make their ML debut in the same season in 2010 when 11 did so, including 10 prior to Sept. 1. The nine rookie pitchers is the most in the NL and tied for fourth most in the Majors with the White Sox, trailing the Athletics (11), Tigers (10) and Blue Jays (10). Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus RF

Vitters 3B

Rizzo 1B

Soriano LF

Castro SS

Castillo C

Jackson CF

Barney 2B

Rusin P

 – Carrie Muskat

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

8/20 Cubs lineup

Justin Germano opens the Cubs’ three-game series in Milwaukee Monday night against the Brewers. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus RF

Vitters 3B

Rizzo 1B

Soriano LF

Castro SS

Castillo C

Jackson CF

Barney 2B

Germano P

* On Saturday, Starlin Castro recorded his 20th stolen base after swiping 22 bases in 2011. He’s the sixth Cubs shortstop to record multiple 20-stolen base campaigns, joining: Joe Tinker (11 times), Ivan DeJesus (5 times), Shawon Dunston (4 times), Ryan Theriot (3 times) and Charlie Hollocher (2 times). Castro is batting .348 (16-for-46) with a .943 OPS in his last 12 games, hitting safely in 10 of those contests, after going 0-for-19 in five games, Aug. 3-7.

* Carlos Marmol has successfully converted his last 14 save opportunities dating to May 2, pitching to a 0.68 ERA (1 ER/13 1/3 IP) in those games. He was successful in a career-best 18-straight save situations, Aug. 21, 2010-April 2, 2011, which included 17-straight converted save opportunities to close out the 2010 campaign. Marmol has a 1.42 ERA in 13 relief appearances in the second half of the season.

* Left-handed pitcher Alex Hinshaw, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers from the Padres, was not expected to join the team Monday. Hinshaw was 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 31 relief appearances with the Padres.

* Expect Chris Rusin to start Tuesday night for the Cubs, which would be his Major League debut. Rusin posted a 2.63 ERA in his first five starts of the season, giving up eight earned runs over 27 1/3 innings. He struggled in June, but in his last three starts, has given up four earned runs over 18 2/3 innings. Overall, he’s 8-8 with a 4.59 ERA in 24 starts, striking out 87 over 133 1/3 innings and walking 52. In his last start Aug. 15 against Tucson, he threw six shutout innings, giving up four hits in the win.

– Carrie Muskat

8/14 Cubs lineup

Chris Volstad will try for his first win since July 2011 on Tuesday when he takes the mound against the Astros in the second game of this three-game series. Dale Sveum said Tuesday during an appearance at the WGN Radio “Cubs Corner” that Josh Vitters should get more playing time. Sveum wanted to see Vitters at third to gauge for himself how the third baseman is doing. Vitters is in there Tuesday. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus RF

Vitters 3B

Rizzo 1B

Soriano LF

Castro SS

Castillo C

Jackson CF

Barney 2B

Volstad P

– Carrie Muskat

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