Vitters Enjoying Early Success at Boise

It may only be a week into short-season play, but third baseman Josh Vitters is beginning to show why the Chicago Cubs made him their first-round pick in the 2007 draft.

Through 29 at-bats with Class Low-A Boise, Vitters has recorded 10 hits for a .345 average. That's in contrast to Vitters' struggles a season ago in his brief professional debut season between Boise and the Arizona League Cubs' rookie level team, in which the third overall pick finished 6-for-51 overall in 14 games.

Those numbers were just the result of Vitters getting his feet wet in pro ball, the Cubs said. Chicago Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita in particular seemed defensive when asked about Vitters' "rough go" last season.

"[What] ‘rough go,' Fleita said. "He signed and the next day he was playing the game. It's unfair to say he had a rough go. I wouldn't word it that way at all."

At any rate, Vitters has started off hot in the early stages at Boise. He picked up a season-high three hits on Monday to extend his hitting streak to six straight games.

Vitters began 2008 – expectedly – in extended spring training. Then – unexpectedly – he received a call-up to Class-A Peoria just two weeks into the season. His stay lasted only four games after a hand injury forced him to return to Arizona.

The Cubs explained that their top priority was to get Vitters healthy, then worry about where to send him.

"Any time you have a hand injury, the blood doesn't circulate," said Fleita. "He's now back to being able to swing. It's a shame he missed the first half, but it happens."

The Cubs still aren't sure exactly how Vitters injured his hand.

"He was swinging a bat," said Fleita. "I don't know if he swung it more than he was accustomed to in high school (but) it probably makes sense. We practice every day. He could have gotten up there in some cool weather, a kind of a (fluke) thing."

But with Vitters' hand no longer an issue, he's been one of the Northwest League's top hitters early on, placing eighth in the league in batting average.

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At Albuquerque, Iowa (45-33) tallied 20 hits Monday and have averaged 9.5 runs per game in their last four contests. INF Casey McGehee tied a career-high with five hits (previously set on July 4, 2005 at Double-A West Tenn) to raise his batting average 14 points to .259 through 73 games. OF Andres Torres continued his hot hitting with his second straight three-hit night to raise his average to .321 through 61 games.

LHP J.R. Mathes (5-3, 3.00 ERA) allowed six runs and 10 hits in six innings, but still managed to win his third straight start. Mathes has not lost since May 4, winning five decisions since then. He leads the Iowa staff in ERA for all current starters.


At Tampa, RHP Alex Maestri took a no-decision for the third straight outing, allowing three runs and seven hits in six innings and striking out four batters. A total of 11 hits – including two apiece for INF's Tony Thomas, Darwin Barney and Russ Canzler, and OF Jim Adduci – weren't enough for the Cubs in Game 1 of a doubleheader.


In Game 2, the Cubs (38-37) would need just one hit – Blake Lalli's sixth home run – to prevail. With hits in both games Monday, Lalli extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games and upped his average to a team-best .332 through 53 contests.

Daytona used three pitchers in the win. RHP Marcos Mateo started and received a no-decision, allowing three hits in a scoreless outing over four innings. LHP Jayson Ruhlman (4-5, 3.89) got the win in relief with 2 2/3 innings.


At Burlington, Iowa, Josh Donaldson gave Peoria (30-43) their only run support with his sixth home run Monday. After batting below the Mendoza Line the first two months of the season, the catcher and Cubs first-round supplemental pick from Auburn last year has hit almost .300 in June to raise his average to .215 through 54 games.

Peoria used four pitchers with RHP Audy Santana (0-4, 3.72) suffering the loss in his second start this season. He allowed two earned runs over four innings.


At Everett, Wash., OF Drew Rundle hit a grand slam to propel the Hawks (3-4) to victory Monday. Boise used four pitchers, including 2005 first-round pick LHP Mark Pawelek (1-0, 7.20), who got the win despite allowing two runs in three innings.


At Surprise, Ariz., RHP Chris Huseby failed to record an out after walking four batters and giving up two runs in the first inning. He faced five batters. RHP Oswaldo Martinez (0-1) suffered the loss for the Cubs (0-2), allowing three runs in relief.


In the Dominican Summer League, Cubs2 (10-10) recorded seven hits including two apiece from catcher/DH Yamel Liria and INF Carlos Morales. Morales extended his hitting streak to seven consecutive games and now has two hits or more in six straight contests, raising his average to .361 through 18 games.

RHP Luis Liria allowed two runs over four innings for a no-decision. RHP Braulio Rosario (1-0, 6.10) got the win in relief, allowing one run in one inning.

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