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Valbuena shows Cubs his deceptive power

6/17/2012

CHICAGO -- Luis Valbuena will remain as the Cubs’ regular third baseman for a while, with that decision coming before he crushed a ball Saturday.

The left-handed hitter, in his third consecutive start since being called up from Triple-A Iowa, crushed a three-run home run off Boston Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester in the seventh inning, but a late Cubs rally fell just short. The Red Sox held on for a 4-3 victory.

While many fans were itching to see longtime prospect Josh Vitters get the chance to play third base for the injured Ian Stewart, Valbuena got the chance instead.

It is actually Valbuena’s second stint with the team this season after being claimed on waivers on Opening Day. But he went down the next day to allow the Cubs to bolster their pitching staff.

His solid defense and surprising power will make it a much lengthier stay this time around. It was the 14th career home run for Valbuena over five seasons with the Mariners, Indians and now Cubs.

“For a small guy he has some pop in his bat,” Sveum said. “He’s a pretty quality hitter and so far you’ve seen his defense. He’s very capable at third base as well as other places.”

Sveum isn’t just viewing Valbuena as a stop-game measure either. He sounded like he has long-term plans for him, although ultimately it could end up as a utility man.

“That ball comes off that bat and he’s a future guy you have to keep your eye on because he’s a left-handed hitter that can play the infield that can hit the ball out of the ballpark,” Sveum said.