Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010
By Kevin Czerwinski
Josh Vitters hasnt played first base in quite some time, certainly never as a professional. Yet, the Cubs former first-round pick has logged a few innings on the opposite side of the infield during the Arizona Fall League after spending his entire career at third base.
Vitters, whom the Cubs grabbed with the third overall selection in the 2007 draft, doesnt see the move as anything permanent. Rather, some playing time at first base will allow him to get the extra at-bats that he missed after breaking his left hand during the regular season at Double-A Tennessee. Vitters went down on July 25 after breaking the third metacarpal and is just now beginning to feel close to 100 percent.
I lost some time this year, Vitters told CSNChicago.com. I played a little bit in instructs to get ready for it and get back in baseball shape. The last time I think I played first base was in high school. Its a pretty new position to learn. Im getting comfortable there after a few games. Im not sure if its permanent but I want to be ready for anything.
Its something that should make me more valuable and versatile but my goal is to definitely stay at third base. Vitters appeared in four games at first base for Mesa heading into Wednesdays action, having committed one error in 29 chances while making one error in 18 chances at third. He said that hes learning to adjust his reaction time because the ball spins in the opposite direction off the bat on the right side of the infield.
Throw in learning where to be on cutoffs, who to back up and when and its made for an interesting fall. Still, its a time that Vitters seems to be relishing. He was starting to heat up at the plate with the Smokies when he suffered the injury. Though he was hitting only .223 in 63 Southern League games after moving up from Daytona, he was batting .303 with a pair of homers and seven RBIs in the 33 at-bats prior to getting hurt.
I started to play well that last month and I was glad that I was able to end it his regular season on a high note and take that into the Fall league and spring training, said Vitters, who hit .291 in 28 Florida State League games before moving to Tennessee. I feel like Ive gotten better as a player and Im trying to continue to improve. Ive had some setbacks here and there but Im actually pretty happy with the way things are turning out.