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Youngsters won't be judged on numbers

8/28/2012

CHICAGO -- The good news for young Chicago Cubs players already on the roster, as well as those expected to arrive in September, is that your bad statistics won’t count against you while the good numbers still will earn you credit.

The Cubs have been in evaluation mode for a while now. While some might say that mode started on Opening Day, it really picked up steam when Anthony Rizzo arrived and even more when Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson were called up.

There aren’t too many top prospects left to add to the expanded September roster, but for the ones that do arrive, the expectations are somewhat simple.

“If you’re here for a short amount of time, you’re not worried about stats, you’re worried about what you see with bat speed, the intelligence, the willingness and the ability to make adjustments when things might be out of whack,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Those are the things you’re judging and evaluating more than the stats.”

For Rizzo the assessment has been easy. He was well ahead of the learning curve when he arrived to the Cubs and put on an impressive offensive show practically immediately. Jackson and Vitters, on the other hand, have been evaluated more on intangibles.

Jackson has had a rocky start to his major league career, entering Monday’s game with 31 strikeouts in 63 at-bats. But he has settled into a comfort zone as his three home runs over a seven-day stretch would show.

Vitters has dealt with his own struggles on offense, but has been better than advertised with the glove, which isn’t to say that he won’t need additional defensive work. He was in the starting lineup Monday, carrying a .102 batting average into the game and a .118 on-base percentage.

Sveum was asked if he knew he would already be in development mode in August when he was hired over the winter.

“I don't know if we used the word ‘know,’ but there was a possibility,” he said. “Obviously we all knew that going in because Brett Jackson's development was going to be up, Vitters development was going to be up, as well as maybe some of the pitchers we (brought) up got here because of (various) reasons. Because of trades they might not have the complete development that we wanted but we knew that there was a very good chance after the trade deadline that these things were going to happen.”