Chris Valaika hopes he can play a part in Cubs rebuild

Chris Valaika hopes he can play a part in Cubs rebuild
August 10, 2014, 3:45 pm
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Tony Andracki

Where does Chris Valaika fit on this Cubs team?

As Theo Epstein's front office continues to overhaul the roster, looking to hone in on core pieces for the future, role players like Valaika have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle.

Valaika turns 29 this week and has fulfilled the role of utility man for the Cubs after they dealt Emilio Bonifacio at the trade deadline.

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Valaika - who played all four infield positions as well as left field and designated hitter at Triple-A Iowa - has already seen time for the big-league club at first base, third base and shortstop while providing a right-handed bat off the bench.

A former third-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2006, Valaika's future in Chicago is uncertain, but he wants to make a lasting impression during the final six-plus weeks of the season.

"I hope I get a chance to stay here," he said. "I want to be a Cub. ... I like the role I'm in - playing utility, being able to play wherever they need me, giving guys days off. So hopefully I can finish this year strong and get a chance to be here again next year."

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Valaika grew up outside of Los Angeles, but was raised a Cubs fan by his dad, who is from Chicago. He made his Cubs debut in front of friends and family in L.A. last weekend and came back to Chicago to make his Wrigley debut Friday, the same game Javier Baez was welcomed to the North Side.

"It was unbelievable. It's always been a dream of mine to play for the Cubs," he said.

Valaika signed with the Cubs as a minor-league free agent before the season started and helped Baez make the switch to second base before the rookie's promotion.

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Valaika also played behind Kyle Hendricks and hit in the middle of an Iowa lineup that included Kris Bryant, Baez and Jorge Soler at various times throughout the year. He's seen this Cubs rebuild from every angle.

"I got a chance to play with these guys coming up, so hopefully I can help them," he said. "It's a special team down there. As they keep developing, they're going to keep getting better and better.

"There will be an adjustment period when they get to the big leagues, but the way they're doing it, from having all these guys come up together, they're going to learn how to win together and hopefully bring something special to Chicago."