Ian Stewart is injured. It's not his wrist this time, but he'll be out a few weeks. Luis Valbuena has already made the team. Josh Vitters is also out an other 2-3 weeks, but I thought this was interesting.
The Cubs do face some decisions regarding Stewart. His $2 million contract is non-guaranteed, which is not unusual for an arbitration-level player, but there is a March 16 deadline. If the Cubs decide at that date that Stewart isn't ready, they can release him and will be obligated to pay one-sixth of his salary ($333,333). If he's released after that date and before the regular season opener, the Cubs would owe Stewart $500,000.
"The fact of the matter is, three weeks from now puts you basically at March 14, which puts you three weeks before Opening Day," Sveum said. "If he's capable and the leg is fine, it'll be a cram session, that's for sure."
Valbuena, 27, already has secured a spot on the 25-man roster and impressed Sveum with his defensive play. Lake, 22, who batted .279 at Double-A Tennessee last season, would be next in the pecking order. — cubs.com
I had just assumed if there was injury to Stewart or Valbuena that Vitters would become the backup. I figured he'd already played at AAA, apparently well enough to earn a call-up and would be the next guy on the depth chart.
Not so. It appears the Cubs would move SS Junior Lake to 3rd base and use him as the backup despite no experience above AA.
It's even possible that Christian Villanueva could pass both of them on the depth chart, though it's highly unlikely. It's not so unlikely that he could pass Vitters, but not probable.
Josh Vitters seems to be an afterthought in this organization at this point and that's probably for good reason.