Cubs still seeking answers for the third base question
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com May 21, 2013 10:50PM
Chicago Cubs third baseman Cody Ransom (1) waits during a pitching change in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh Tuesday, May 21, 2013. The Pirates won 5-4. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
The facts: 6:05 p.m., Ch. 9,
The pitchers: Jeff Samardzija (2-5, 3.49 ERA) vs. Francisco Liriano (2-0, 1.64).
Updated: June 23, 2013 6:41AM
PITTSBURGH — Cody Ransom played third base on Tuesday. Luis Valbuena will be starting there by the end of the Pirates series.
But who’s the third baseman of the future? The best answer to that might come from Abbott and Costello, and they’re both dead: “I don’t know.”
The long-term uncertainty of that position hasn’t stopped Ian Stewart from telling mlb.com that team president Theo Epstein told him disappointing prospect Josh Vitters is the Cubs’ third baseman of the future — and the reason the $2 million Stewart is on the bench at Class AAA Iowa.
The realities are that Class A infielder Javy Baez is the closest thing to a third baseman of the future in the system right now, the Cubs no longer have Stewart in their plans after a lost spring and disappointing rehab assignment, and Vitters is off the radar as a high-expectations prospect, with manager Dale Sveum saying, ‘‘Obviously there’s a lot of development left in him [to do].’’
‘‘Hey, if Valbuena keeps playing the way he is, he’s our third baseman,’’ Sveum said.
And what of that conversation between Stewart and Epstein?
Simple, Epstein said.
‘‘I called Ian to give him an honest assessment of his situation so that he could make an informed decision regarding whether or not to accept his assignment to Iowa,’’ Epstein told the Sun-Times via email. ‘‘I told him things had changed because Valbuena was playing well and was now our major-league third baseman.
‘‘I told him Josh Vitters was a prospect and needed to play a lot at Triple-A. If Ian accepted the assignment, I couldn’t promise him at-bats, and we owed him that candor since it impacts his career.’’
Albert Almora, the No. 6 overall pick in last year’s draft, joins Class A Kane County on Wednesday for his anticipated season debut after being sidelined by a broken hamate bone suffered in spring training.
The center fielder played in extended spring training games after the routine surgery.
The Cubs, as expected, designated reliever Michael Bowden for assignment Tuesday to make room on the roster for Matt Garza’s activation from the DL.
◆ The Cubs claimed right-hander Eduardo Sanchez, 24, on waivers from St. Louis. Sanchez, a power pitcher, has had mixed results in parts of two seasons in the big leagues.