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updated: 9/19/2012 11:45 PM

Third base key issue for Sveum, Cubs

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  • Luis Valbuena, right, dives over Pittsburgh Pirates' Neil Walker after tagging him out at third base on an Andrew McCutchen single in the fourth inning Sunday.  Luis Valbuena started his fourth straight game at third base for the Cubs Wednesday night against the Reds at Wrigley Field. Manager Dale Sveum said rookie Josh Vitters probably will get more playing time on next week's road trip and in the final home series of the year.

      Luis Valbuena, right, dives over Pittsburgh Pirates' Neil Walker after tagging him out at third base on an Andrew McCutchen single in the fourth inning Sunday. Luis Valbuena started his fourth straight game at third base for the Cubs Wednesday night against the Reds at Wrigley Field. Manager Dale Sveum said rookie Josh Vitters probably will get more playing time on next week's road trip and in the final home series of the year.
    Associated Press

 
 

If you think Josh Vitters' playing time has diminished lately, you'd be right.

Luis Valbuena made his fourth consecutive start at the hot corner Wednesday night in the Cubs' game against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.

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The Cubs fell 6-5 in 11 innings.

While neither Vitters nor Valbuena has lit it up offensively, Valbuena has been the better of the two in the field.

Manager Dale Sveum said he will pick his spots with Vitters.

"He might play (against) Colorado-Arizona," Sveum said of next week's road trip. "And at the end of the year, he'll probably get a little more playing time. Try to fit him in those games and stuff like that."

Vitters, the Cubs' first-round draft choice in 2007, came up with center fielder Brett Jackson on Aug. 5. Entering Wednesday, Vitters had a hitting line of .108/.157/.205 with 2 homers and 5 RBI. He had committed 3 errors.

Sveum recently talked of Vitters needing to work on his throws and said he was making poor throws in part because he was looking at the runner going down the line.

"When you play third base or sometimes when you play any position, a lot of times, certain people can do things by the book," Sveum said. "When you play third base, it's more spontaneous. It's more how you get the job done, what's more comfortable to you.

"If you watch some of the great third basemen of all time, none of them were the prototypical, the way you teach infield play. It's such a position where you don't get many routine plays. … The bottom line, once you get to the big leagues, we don't really care how it gets done. Just get it done."

Ian Stewart, obtained in a trade with Colorado, began the year as the starting third baseman. But a wrist injury ended his season in June, and it's a good bet he won't be back next year.

So add third base to the list of questions facing the Cubs for 2013.

"Wherever we have the resources to spend money, we don't know where we're going to spend it right now," Sveum said. "Obviously, we've got some holes in a lot of areas that need to be fixed. We don't know exactly where that money's going to go.

"Valbuena's going to be part of the organization, and he does one heck of a job himself. We don't know what's going to happen there."

Soler care:

With the Cubs having switched their Class A Midwest League affiliation from Peoria to Kane County, team president Theo Epstein was asked if Cuban phenom Jorge Soler would begin next year at Kane County.

"It's too early to tell," Epstein said. "Yeah, it's a possibility, absolutely."

The Cubs have opted for Soler to play instructional ball in Arizona and are not sending him to the highly competitive Arizona Fall League.

"We feel like he's at a point in his development (where) he needs a lot of instruction," Epstein said. "He hasn't played a ton of, quote-unquote, organized baseball and hasn't gone through a spring training with the club yet.

"It's not a question of talent. But there's a lot about the Cubs way that we want to teach him.

"It's a good chance to get one-on-one instruction. There are some mechanical adjustments we want him to make in his swing with his stride direction and a little bit with where he starts his hands, where he loads his hands.

"Those type of adjustments are better made under the club's supervision and in a one-on-one environment in instructional league where you can use video day after day after day."

bmiles@dailyherald.com

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