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Cubs' rebuild takes priority over hot hand

8/20/2012

MILWAUKEE -- The Chicago Cubs lineup Monday showed they are staying committed to their rebuilding project.

Despite the fact that Luis Valbuena was as hot as anybody during the just-concluded series at Cincinnati, rookie Josh Vitters was back in the lineup at third base for the series opener at Milwaukee.

Manager Dale Sveum could have simply reinserted the left-handed hitting Valbuena into the order since the Brewers had right-hander Mark Rogers on the mound, but decided against it.

“Valbuena got hot again and was really swinging the bat but my priority is still going to be getting Vitters quite a few at-bats,” Sveum said.

Valbuena had six hits in 12 at-bats against the Reds with a home run and started one game in the No. 6 spot, one game as the leadoff hitter and another as the No. 3 hitter. In fact, the only game the Cubs won during the four-game series was the one where Valbuena batted third.

All that is fine, but the Cubs’ major priority is to make sure young guys like Vitters continue to develop for the future and that won’t happen if he is sitting on the bench.

“He’s here for a reason,” Sveum said. “He’s not going to play every day and the other day I said he was going to play more.”

In the early going it has been a struggle for Vitters, not that it wasn’t expected as he begins his big league career. He is batting just .091 over his first 10 games, but has driven in three runs. Vitters was batting .304 at Triple-A Iowa with 32 doubles, 17 triples and 68 RBI in 110 games.