Bears

Vitters Hoping For Big Fall

Vitters Hoping For Big Fall

Sunday Oct. 17, 2010
Posted: 8:20 a.m.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
The Arizona Fall League can be used as a springboard or a showcase for some players, letting them finish the calendar year on a positive note. Very often a good a good AFL showing will also create some buzz around a player heading into spring training the following year.

Josh Vitters falls under the former category while Kyle Smit can, at least for the moment, be classified as part of the latter. Both are playing for Mesa this fall and each played a big part in Saturday nights 10-1 victory over the Peoria Saguaros.

The Cubs made Vitters the third pick in the 2007 draft yet he hasnt lived up to such a lofty selection. Hes made a steady climb through Chicagos system and played well enough but has yet to dominate the way a high draft pick is expected to dominate. He split this season between High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, struggling when he reached the Southern League before a broken hand ended his year in July.

To say that Vitters has something to prove this fall would be an understatement. A big showing in the AFL would go a long way toward putting some polish back on his young career despite the fact he only turned 21 in August. More efforts like Saturdays would accomplish that task.

Vitters had a homer and four RBIs and has four hits and five RBIs in his last two games. He had only 39 RBIs in 91 games at two levels during the regular season so this marks a fine start for the third baseman. Ryan Flaherty went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.

As for Smit, well, it certainly appears as if the Cubs found a gem when they acquired him from the Dodgers in a deadline deal this July. He pitched two scoreless innings and earned his first AFL victory. He hasnt allowed a run in four AFL innings after pitching to a 1.96 ERA and winning five of the 12 games in which he appeared for Tennessee following the trade.

Based on what he did after the deal and how he has performed thus far in the AFL, Smit should have a wonderful opportunity to open some more organizational eyes in spring training.

Chris Carpenter also pitched two innings, allowing a run on two hits and a pair of walks. Hes walked three and allowed five hits through four AFL innings.

The Saguaros, who have a healthy contingent of White Sox prospects, managed only seven hits. Jared Mitchell, who drew two walks, had one of them. Jason Bour, who split the season between Birmingham and Winston-Salem, went 0-for-1 in his AFL debut while Eduardo Escobar went 0-for-3.

Anthony Carter made his debut and struck out three batters in his inning of work. He appeared in 46 games for Birmingham during the regular season. Charlie Leesman allowed a run in one inning for the second time in as many outings.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at [email protected].

Under Center Podcast: State of the Bears: Defense

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: State of the Bears: Defense

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan are back with their training camp preview of the Bears' defense, looking at if it's fair to expect this group to take a step back without Vic Fangio (2:00) or if it's possible to repeat as the league's No. 1 defense (10:00). Plus, the guys look at which players the Bears need to improve to remain one of the NFL's best defenses (15:15), debate if Leonard Floyd can be better (20:00) and look at the future of the defense as a salary cap crunch looms after 2019 (25:00). 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: 

Yu Darvish finally has his first win at Wrigley

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USA TODAY

Yu Darvish finally has his first win at Wrigley

Yu Darvish blew a 98 mph fastball by Yasiel Puig, pumped his fist emphatically twice and let out a primal yell as he walked off the mound while 37,260 fans at Wrigley Field backed him up with maybe the loudest "YUUUU!!!" chant of the season.

It was the final pitch he threw on the afternoon as he completely dismantled the Reds lineup in a 4-2 Cubs victory.

Since the All-Star Break, Darvish leads Major League Baseball in ERA — he hasn't allowed a run in 12 innings while striking out 15 and giving up only 4 hits and a walk. 

Oh yeah, and he finally picked up his first Wrigley Field win in a Cubs uniform...in his 28th start.

In both outings to start the second half, he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and they're also the only two scoreless starts he has as a member of the Cubs (he gave up 0 earned run April 27 last year against the Brewers, but was charged with an unearned run).

The Cubs are now 5-1 since the All-Star Break and will carry a 2.5-game lead in the division into action Friday when the San Diego Padres come into town.