Nothing much new in the way of Cubs' September call-ups

  • Back after missing two months with a broken rib, Ryan Sweeney hits a single Sunday in the Cubs' victory over the Phillies at Wrigley Field.

    Back after missing two months with a broken rib, Ryan Sweeney hits a single Sunday in the Cubs' victory over the Phillies at Wrigley Field. Associated Press

Updated 9/1/2013 7:44 PM

September brings a mix of feelings to the baseball season.

One is the wistfulness of knowing the season soon will be over and that winter is on its way.


Another is the excitement of seeing minor-league prospects come up as "September call-ups."

There will be little of that second feeling with the Cubs this year.

The Cubs made three roster moves before Sunday's 7-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, but two of them consisted of bringing players off the disabled list: outfielder Ryan Sweeney and third baseman Luis Valbuena.

They did make one call-up, right-handed reliever Alberto Cabrera from Class AAA Iowa.

In the coming days the Cubs will make a few more call-ups.

They'll probably bring journeyman catcher J.C. Boscan from Iowa to help out behind the plate. Left-handed pitcher Brooks Raley also may come up to take some of the load off James Russell, the heavily taxed and lone lefty coming out of the bullpen.

As far as excitement, that's farther down the road, with big-name prospects Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant no higher than Class AA.

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It's a far cry from last year, when the Cubs gave early-August trials to third baseman Josh Vitters and center fielder Brett Jackson, both former first-round draft picks of the organization.

"We don't have, obviously, those young kids coming up, like last year with Jackson and Vitters, that kind of thing," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "This year we have some older guys, left-handed bats that are obviously in the mix for next season and try to take a good look at and evaluate them.

"Sweeney got cut short, obviously, but was really swinging the bat well and doing a great job. Obviously, (Brian) Bogusevic's getting an opportunity, also."

It has been a lost season for Vitters and Jackson. Neither hit well in their 2012 call-ups, and both were ticketed for the minor leagues even before spring training started this past February.


Injuries also have played a part in wrecking the 2013 seasons for Vitters and Jackson. Vitters appeared in only 28 games at Iowa, putting up a line of .295/.380/.511 with 5 homers and 12 RBI.

Jackson found himself demoted from Iowa to Class AA Tennessee after an injury rehab in Arizona. Entering Sunday, he had a combined line of .208/.295/.327 with 6 homers, 26 RBI and 120 strikeouts in 318 at-bats.

Vitters was the Cubs' first-round pick out of high school in 2007, and Jackson was taken in the first round out of the University of California in 2009.

People I've talked with say the Cubs haven't given up on either player. However, time is running short. Both need to get back on the field, and both need to start producing.

"Obviously, things have changed a great deal with missing so much time this year," Sveum said. "So the player-development part of this year has kind of been pretty much lost quite a bit for both of them.

"Jackson's obviously played more. It will be a wait-and-see thing this winter."

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