Results tagged ‘ Luis Valbuena ’
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
* Third baseman Luis Valbuena was expected back in the Cubs lineup on Wednesday, four days after spraining the little finger on his right hand when he slid into third base. Valbuena, who injured his hand Saturday in Washington, has been able to take batting practice and work out at third Monday and Tuesday. He spent part of Tuesday with his little finger in a cup of ice to get the swelling down. Valbuena was batting .272 in 31 games with five home runs, five doubles and 13 RBIs.
* The Cubs have finally climbed above the Mendoza line when batting with runners in scoring position. Chicago entered Tuesday’s game batting .204 with RISP, still lowest in the Major Leagues. The team leads the National League with 87 doubles and 131 extra-base hits. But they rank 10th in runs scored.
* Arodys Vizcaino, coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, will continue his rehab with the Cubs rather than in Mesa, Ariz. Vizcaino joined the team on Monday. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the right-hander, acquired from the Braves last July in the Paul Maholm deal, was a couple weeks away from appearing in a game.
Scott Baker, who also is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery one year ago, remained in Mesa at the Cubs’ facility.
– Carrie Muskat
* Matt Garza’s next Minor League rehab outing will be Thursday for Triple-A Iowa, and the team will make a decision after that as to whether the right-hander is ready to be activated. Garza is rehabbing from a left lat strain suffered in Spring Training. In his last Minor League outing on Saturday, he gave up three hits and walked two over 3 1/3 innings for Double-A Tennessee. It was his third Minor League rehab start, and he threw 66 pitches, 40 for strikes.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Garza threw with a lot of “aggressiveness” in his bullpen session on Monday.
“We just have to get him built up so he can at least go out there for [six innings],” Sveum said.
* Third baseman Luis Valbuena, who sprained the little finger on his right hand sliding into third base on Saturday, was available to pinch-hit. Valbuena has his little finger and ring finger taped together while he does drills. He would not have started Tuesday against Rockies lefty Jeff Francis, so Valbuena will get at least one extra day to rest, Sveum said.
* Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson hosted his fourth “Edwin’s Entourage” event on Monday at Wrigley Field. He created the event to create awareness of baseball to younger African American males. More than 40 participants from local youth leagues, ages 11-18, took part.
* Arodys Vizcaino, who is on the 60-day disabled list recovering from Tommy John surgery, was in Chicago to be examined by the team doctors. The right-hander, whom the Cubs acquired in July 2012 from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal, underwent the surgery early in 2012.
– Carrie Muskat
* Last year at the Trade Deadline, the Cubs were sellers. That may be the case again this year if they don’t rally. GM Jed Hoyer said he feels there’s still time for the Cubs to get on track. Sveum agrees.
“We’ve lost so many games we’ve had control over,” Sveum said Sunday. “We know this record could be flip-flopped with a little better play because the pitching has kept us in so many games.”
The Cubs have 21 quality starts, yet have won eight of those games. Thirty-three of their 36 games have been decided by four runs or less, and 28 have been decided by three runs or less.
However, the Cubs are in rebuilding mode, and Sveum knows what that means.
“You know things like that are possible and you weigh all the options and what’s best for the organization,” Sveum said. “Those are things you have to do sometimes. It’s not that easy to see Dempster and Maholm go somewhere else but it is part of the game. We’re trying to ge this thing completely healthy.”
* Luis Valbuena was able to play catch and hit in the batting cage on Sunday, one day after spraining the little finger on his right hand sliding into third base. Valbuena was not in the lineup against Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez, but was available to pinch-hit, manager Dale Sveum said. Valbuena was not expected to go on the disabled list. With one out in the fifth Saturday, Valbuena doubled to right but was tagged sliding into third trying to stretch his hit and jammed his hand on the bag. X-rays showed no fracture, and Valbuena received treatment. He was batting .272 with five home runs and 13 RBIs this season.
* Matt Garza will make at least one more Minor League rehab start, and possibly two, after his abbreviated outing on Saturday. Garza gave up three hits and walked two over 3 1/3 innings Saturday for Double-A Tennessee in his third Minor League rehab start, throwing 66 pitches, 40 for strikes. He struck out two.
“He felt great and everything, but not real efficient,” Dale Sveum said Sunday. “Right now, we have to get him built up to get to the fourth, fifth and hopefully sixth inning.”
Garza will be in Chicago this week when the Cubs return for a three-game homestand against the Rockies, and make his next start for Triple-A Iowa.
It will be tough to eliminate one of the starters from the mix. Edwin Jackson is the only pitcher who has struggled, and he’s not a candidate to move to the bullpen.
“It ain’t going to be easy,” Sveum said about moving one of the starters. “Part of it sometimes, when you have these decisions … it’s a good problem to have, but for the individual, nobody deserves it. They’re pitching perfectly fine. It isn’t going to be the easiest thing to do.”
* With an off day scheduled for Thursday, the Cubs will not tweak their rotation but keep everyone on schedule, Sveum said. Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva and Jeff Samardzija will face the Rockies in a three-game series at Wrigley Field that starts Monday.
– Carrie Muskat
X-rays were negative of Luis Valbuena’s right hand. He had to leave Saturday’s game after jamming his right pinky finger sliding into third base in the fifth inning. Valbuena wasn’t scheduled to start Sunday against lefty Gio Gonzalez, and would likely be able to pinch hit, Dale Sveum said.
With one out in the fifth against the Nationals, Valbuena doubled to right but was tagged sliding into third trying to stretch his hit. Cody Ransom took over at third base in the sixth. Valbuena was batting .272 with five home runs and 13 RBIs.
– Carrie Muskat
* Kyuji Fujikawa, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, threw his second bullpen on Thursday and the next step could be a rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa on Sunday.
“His command and everything was much better,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the right-hander. “Everything looked a lot crisper than the other day [in his first bullpen].”
Fujikawa could start the Minor League game to make sure he gets one inning of work. However, the Cubs do want to have him pitch in relief to get into his normal routine in preparation for his return.
* Cubs third basemen have combined for seven home runs in 27 games, most in the Major Leagues, and more than half of the entire season total in 2012. Luis Valbuena has hit five and Cody Ransom two so far. Last season, Chicago third basemen combined for 12 home runs.
* Starlin Castro moved down from the No. 2 hole to fifth for the second straight game, but Sveum said the move was more to take advantage of Ransom’s numbers against left-handed pitching. Castro is the Cubs’ No. 2 hitter.
“I see [Castro] as a two-hole hitter,” Sveum said of the Cubs shortstop, who has a career .303 average batting fifth and a .299 average batting second. “When everything is set correctly, he’s really a two-hole hitter. A lot of times you’d like a left-handed hitter there to hook the ball, and right-handed catchers have trouble throwing when a left-handed hitter is in the batter’s box.
“On our team right now, he’s a two-hole hitter,” Sveum said. “Obviously, he’s a hand-eye coordination guy who will put the ball in play and doesn’t walk much so maybe he’s more apt to hit at the bottom or the order because he can hit into some double plays and things like that. For the team we have now, he’s the second hitter.”
Ransom was 6-for-16 with three home runs against left-handed pitchers so far; Castro was batting .206 against left-handed pitching.
– Carrie Muskat
Every loss is tough to take, but Monday hurt a little more for the Cubs because they did nearly everything right. Cesar Izturis hit a walkoff RBI single with two outs in the 13th to spark the Reds to a 5-4 come from behind victory over the Cubs, who had taken a two-run lead in the top of the inning on Luis Valbuena’s two-run home run.
“We battled all game,” Travis Wood said. “They’re a good ballclub over there and their guys did what they needed to do to pull out a win.”
Valbuena connected off Alfredo Simon in the 13th, scoring Welington Castillo, who had reached second on an error by third baseman Todd Frazier. For once, it looked as if the Cubs’ could capitalize on another team’s mistakes.
But Xavier Paul singled to lead off the Reds’ 13th against Michael Bowden, and advanced to third on a double by Brandon Phillips that right fielder Dave Sappelt missed.
“In my mind, I knew I had to make a web gem to win the game,” Sappelt said. “I came up short.”
Paul and Phillips both scored on Jay Bruce’s double into the gap in right center. Did Cubs manager Dale Sveum consider walking Bruce?
“I did,” Sveum said. “I didn’t want to put the winning run on the base and he hadn’t been swinging that good anyway.”
One out later, Izturis lined a single over shortstop Starlin Castro for the game-winner.
“I’m proud of the way they played today,” Sveum said. “They had good at-bats all night long, played good defense, pitched, and came up short. [The Reds] hit the ball hard the last inning. Besides the one blooper that fell in and changed things, other than that, they swung the bats there. No walks — they swung the bats to beat us.”
The Cubs had opportunities, stranding 12 runners in the game.
“It’s hard to be down,” Wood said about the loss. “It’s easy to be down, but also hard to be down. It’s not like we’re getting blown out every game. We’re right there. We just have to come together as a team and figure out how to pull them out.”
Fifteen of the Cubs’ 18 games now have been decided by three runs or less, and the Cubs are 4-11 in those close games.
“They are tough just because you know you’re doing everything you can and for some reason the ball isn’t going our way,” Wood said. “You just have to hang in there and ride it out. Tides will turn.”
– Carrie Muskat
Third baseman Ian Stewart will open the season on the disabled list. An MRI showed a pocket of fluid in his left quad, which he had drained on Tuesday. The Cubs will see how he responds to treatment over the next several days, and then expect to have a better timetable for his progress. Stewart said he felt something in his leg during the Minor League game last Thursday, and wasn’t sure if that aggravated his left quad. There’s stil pain, and he hasn’t been on the field since. On Monday, he tried to work out.
“I just tried to run, and can’t run, can’t get through the running part,” Stewart said. “That’s really the last hurdle. I can hit, take grounders, I just can’t run.”
Is he upset, frustrated?
“I would say frustration, because I can pretty much do everything somewhat pain-free without being able to run,” Stewart said. “I know what it’s like to play through pain and that’s what’s hard about this is I can’t get through the pain because it’s just too much.”
Luis Valbuena was expected to start Opening Day, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Brent Lillibridge appears to have made the team. He’s “too valuable a commodity,” Sveum said of the versatile Lillibridge, who can play all infield positions and the outfield.
– Carrie Muskat
Ian Stewart is running out of time to get ready for the regular season. The Cubs third baseman will undergo another MRI on his left quad because there’s been some lingering soreness, which has kept him from running the bases and out of games. Stewart injured his leg Feb. 21 during an intrasquad game, and did not play again until March 14 in a Minor League game. He has been unable to get into another game since.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Stewart told the athletic trainers that the latest problem isn’t a setback. However, the reality is the Cubs have two weeks remaining before Opening Day, April 1.
“I don’t know if he’s got enough time,” Sveum said Sunday. “It’ll be interesting.”
Stewart was limited to 55 games last season before of a sore wrist, which needed surgery. That hasn’t been a problem this spring. Whether Stewart is ready for April 1 will affect how the Cubs put together their bench. Brent Lillibridge and Luis Valbuena can play third, as well as Edwin Maysonet and Alberto Gonzalez.
“It just comes down to what do you want in that spot,” Sveum said. “[Steve] Clevenger’s obviously a guy who could be interesting, [and we're watching] all the waiver wires.”
Clevenger made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster last year as the backup catcher but on Saturday played first and third. He could be an emergency third baseman, plus give Sveum more options with double switches.
Others in the mix for the bench spots include non-roster invitees Darnell McDonald, Brian Bogusevic, and Dave Sappelt, all outfielders.
“It all depends when we sit down and really hard core look at it, what is our need, how does the pitching set up with the other team, who’s their closer, set-up guys, left-handed guys,” Sveum said.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Saturday he hasn’t given general manager Jed Hoyer a wish list of what he needs heading into the season, adding that he’s comfortable with the position players on the roster. When the Cubs made their mid-March trip to Las Vegas last year, they didn’t know they would add reliever Shawn Camp and infielder Luis Valbuena, both acquired in late March. Camp was the Cubs’ first-half MVP last year, and Valbuena took over at third when Ian Stewart was injured.
“The thing you’re doing is always looking to get better, whether it’s a player here or a player there, bullpen spot, left-handed reliever,” Sveum said. “You’re always just looking.”
The Cubs also feel better about their pitching depth this year compared to 2012. Last year’s Rule 5 Draft pick, Lendy Castillo, was trying to make the leap from Class A to the big leagues. This year’s Rule 5 pick, Hector Rondon, was the Indians Minor League pitcher of the year in 2009, and has pitched in 105 Minor League games. Castillo had pitched in 45, and was a converted infielder.
“Last year, we went into the last week with so much youth in the bullpen and question marks with how [Kerry Wood] was going to be health-wise — and obviously that didn’t turn out too good — and we didn’t have any depth,” Sveum said. “It was almost a necessity to pick up Camp, and he had a great year. It was more a durable arm, a guy who could throw strikes.”
– Carrie Muskat