MINNEAPOLIS This was in the middle of what turned out to be a 12-game losing streak. The Chicago media was out in force at Wrigley Field for Cubs-Sox.
Dale Sveum didnt completely dismiss the idea last month. The Cubs manager was asked about the possibility of bringing up Anthony Rizzo to be the designated hitter during interleague play.
Sveum said thats definitely going to be talked about with the front office, and that very narrow opening was all we needed to run through. Reporters were looking for something to write about, and fans had already pinned their hopes on the next big thing.
Rizzo who began the day hitting .365 with 18 homers and 49 RBI in 54 games at Triple-A Iowa wasnt at Target Field on Friday night and wont be on the South Side June 18-20. There wasnt much of a chance the first baseman would be promoted anyway.
Its serious talk, Sveum said. When is that day gonna happen? Is it the right time? You dont sit down and say: Should we do it tomorrow? We havent done anything like that. Its obviously a subject, but
We thought better of it and obviously we didnt. And there are no plans to do it against the White Sox either.
Rizzo gets all the hype now. But it was Josh Vitters who went third overall to the Cubs in the 2007 draft, while the Boston Red Sox grabbed Rizzo in the sixth round.
They were born 19 days apart in August of 1989 and played together on elite travel teams at national tournaments, even though they grew up on opposite sides of the country.
Vitters has gradually worked his way up the system. He never turned out to be the replacement for Aramis Ramirez at third base, and wont be taking Ian Stewarts job anytime soon.
Vitters is still only 22 years old. Hes hitting .272 with nine homers and 32 RBI through 57 games at Iowa. Hes not a natural defender and he needs to become more selective at the plate (13 walks in 200-plus at-bats).
Hes been swinging the bat really well lately, Sveum said. He (doesnt have) great command of the strike zone, (but he) puts the ball in play and doesnt strike out a lot.
Hes still got to develop defensively. Hes still not going all that great (at third base). Hes got to get a little better defensively before we think of that.
Sveum remains committed to Stewart, whos struggling to stay above .200 and has been dealing with a nagging left wrist injury, but covers a lot of ground on the left side of the infield.
Its just a matter of him coming in and saying its too sore to go, Sveum said. That defense is still tough to take out of the lineup. Hes going to get in there and play that defense and somehow figure something out and get hot and start carrying us offensively.
The Cubs value Stewarts left-handed bat, plus defense and track record with the Colorado Rockies (43 homers in 2009 and 2010). In the meantime, it cant hurt Vitters hanging around his buddies Rizzo and Brett Jackson, two mature, driven prospects feeling a sense of urgency to get to the big leagues.