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updated: 4/5/2012 6:03 AM

Cubs claim infielder from Toronto

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  • New Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart gets accustomed to the infield near his position during a workout Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

       New Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart gets accustomed to the infield near his position during a workout Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Cubs used their roster flexibility to claim infielder Luis Valbuena off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Valbuena, 26, is a career .226 hitter (166-for-735) with Seattle (2008) and Cleveland (2009-11). The versatile left-handed hitter has played 175 games at second base, 35 games at shortstop and 10 games at third base. The Blue Jays signed him last winter.

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Reserving the option to pick up a player on waivers after final cuts was one reason general manager Jed Hoyer opted not to name his opening-day roster earlier.

"Part of why last week we were reluctant to announce too much is that there's always good players available," Hoyer said. "Keeping our flexibility to be able to add that kind of player early on the season is important."

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said another left-handed bat is always welcome, especially one that produced a .302 batting average with 22 doubles, 17 home runs and 75 RBI in 113 games at Triple-A Columbus last year.

"He's a guy with some pop in his bat," Sveum said. "Not a huge guy, but he's got some hitting ability. He put up some nice numbers last year in Triple-A. He brings the ability to do a lot of things and hit left-handed. What we're always striving to find and get in the organization is good left-handed hitters."

To make room on the opening-day roster, right-handed pitcher Frankie De La Cruz was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa, leaving the Cubs with six pitchers in the bullpen to open the season: Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, James Russell, Rafael Dolis, Lendy Castillo and Shawn Camp. Russell is the only lefty.

Hoyer said Rodrigo Lopez will likely join the team within a few days, Hoyer said, upping the bullpen to seven pitchers.

LaHair iffy for today:

Manager Dale Sveum was unable to release his first opening-day lineup Wednesday due to the uncertainty surrounding first baseman Bryan LaHair's stiff back, which has bothered him since the weekend.

"I think it's probably a 50-50 chance he'll play," Sveum said. "He's improved a great deal. Just got done talking to him. It'll be come in and get treatment, do some tee work, some soft toss and make an evaluation from there.

"If that goes really well, we'll probably let him hit (batting practice). And if that goes really well, he's got a chance to be in the lineup."

Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt are the mostly likely candidates to start at first base if LaHair can't go.

Old park, new look:

Cubs players got their first view of the renovations at Wrigley Field during their first workout Wednesday, particularly the new Budwesier Patio in right field, fronted by a 75-foot Panasonic LED board.

The patio is reserved for private parties and can accommodate 50, 100 or 150 people. Each ticket includes a seat and an all-inclusive food and beverage package. The LED board will display player pictures, pitch counts and statistics.

Infielder Jeff Baker toured the new patio with his "little brother" Tony Campana before the Cubs took batting practice.

"It's a great area up there," Baker said. "You've got a good view of the game; you can see everything. You're not really jam-packed on top of each other. You have your room to kind of bound around out there. I thought it was really cool what they did."

As for the LED board?

"It's awesome," Baker said. "As a player you like it. I know we probably have a lot of old-school fans who aren't going to like it. At the same point, I guess there are a lot of people you'd call new school who want the big jumbotrons."

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