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updated: 8/27/2012 11:32 PM

Cubs looking high and low for a few good men

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  • Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, left, scores past Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy off a single by Starlin Castro during the third inning Monday at Wrigley Field.

      Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, left, scores past Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy off a single by Starlin Castro during the third inning Monday at Wrigley Field.
    Associated Press

  • Ryan Braun scores on a double by Aramis Ramirez as Cubs catcher Steve Clevender stretches for a wide throw in the first inning Monday at Wrigley Field.

      Ryan Braun scores on a double by Aramis Ramirez as Cubs catcher Steve Clevender stretches for a wide throw in the first inning Monday at Wrigley Field.

 
 

The Cubs' open audition period began earlier this month, and you can expect it to intensify over the final month of the season.

Look around the diamond. Young players are competing for jobs in 2013 behind the plate, in center field, at third base and on the pitcher's mound.

"These are things we're evaluating this next month," manager Dale Sveum said Monday before the Cubs lost 15-4 to the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.

The Brewers put it away with 9 runs in the top of the ninth, getting consecutive home runs from Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez (his second of the game) and Corey Hart. It got so bad that the Cubs used outfielder Joe Mather to pitch in the ninth.

"There's a few positions that are going to be evaluated, and we'll go from there in the winter depending on what we really feel we have to do to compete next year, who needs more development and all that kind of stuff," Sveum said.

After a slow start with a spate of strikeouts, center fielder Brett Jackson appears to be coming on.

He hit his fourth home run of the season to lead off the sixth inning. It was his third homer of the homestand.

He's faring better than third baseman Josh Vitters, who struck out three times in his first 4 at-bats, as his batting average fell below .100.

Left-handed pitcher Brooks Raley will get another start in Thursday's series finale, and lefty Chris Rusin is waiting in the wings at Class AAA Iowa, and he'll likely get some September starts.

One of the most interesting spots is behind the plate. Since the trade of Geovany Soto to the Rangers last month, the Cubs have been going with rookies Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo. Both are getting plenty of on-the-job training in games and from coaching-staff assistant Mike Borzello and pitching coach Chris Bosio.

The Cubs traded for veteran minor-league catcher Anthony Recker on Monday, getting him from Oakland and sending him to Iowa. He could get a look-see in September.

It remains to be seen what the Cubs do for next year, whether they'll try to obtain a veteran major-league catcher or let Clevenger and Castillo share time again, when they'll be "veterans."

"I don't think they'll be veterans," Sveum said. "You have to play a lot more games than they've played to be considered veterans. I think going through the next month, six weeks of spring training and really coming in a lot more comfortable with the system we have and that Borzello and Bosio put together for them.

"I think that will be plenty for them because they're just now tipping the iceberg figuring it all out. So it's not an easy process. I think they're viable enough to handle it anyway."

Monday's starting pitcher, Justin Germano, also is trying to make his mark. In his sixth start for the Cubs this season, he worked 5 innings, giving up 10 hits and 5 runs.

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