5/21/2013 11:35 P.M. ET
Cubs prioritize Vitters' development over Stewart
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Ian Stewart was projected as the Cubs' regular third baseman for 2013 before he was injured in Spring Training, and he is now playing for Triple-A Iowa. However, Stewart is not high on the organization's depth chart at third base.
According to Stewart, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told him that Josh Vitters, the team's No. 1 Draft pick in 2007, would be getting most of the at-bats.
"[Vitters] is the priority, put it that way," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday. "Who knows about third basemen of the future, but he's a priority to develop as that guy. The guy was a first-round pick, and the guy can swing the bat. We still have to develop him with the thought of him being our third baseman some day. He's got power, he can swing, he can hit a fastball. But there's a lot of development left in him."
Where does that leave Luis Valbuena, who is getting the majority of at-bats at third with the big league team? Vitters is 23 years old, Valbuena is 27, and Stewart is 28.
"If Valbuena keeps playing the way he is, he's our third baseman," Sveum said. "He's doing a very nice job. That's just what you do in the Minor Leagues -- you develop people to be in that spot. Whether it happens [with Vitters], who knows? That's usually up to the individual who you're trying to develop. They'll force your hand, one way or the other."
Vitters, who has been battling a sore quad, was batting .275 for Iowa with two home runs and seven RBIs heading into Tuesday.
Wood, Lockhart representing Cubs at Draft
PITTSBURGH -- Kerry Wood will be one of the Cubs' representatives at the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, to be held June 6 at MLB Network's Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J.
Wood, who was the Cubs' first-round pick in 1995 and the fourth player taken overall, will be joined by Chicago area scout Keith Lockhart, a former big leaguer himself whose son, Daniel, was the Cubs' 10th-round selection in 2011 out of Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula, Ga.
Wood, 35, pitched for 14 seasons in the big leagues, including 12 with the Cubs from 1998-2008, and again from 2011-12. He made quite an impression in his fifth start of his rookie year, when he struck out 20 in his first complete game, a one-hit victory over the Astros on May 6.
Wood's last appearance was nearly as dramatic, as he unexpectedly ended his career May 18, 2012, when he entered in the eighth of an Interleague game against the White Sox, struck out Dayan Viciedo, and was then pulled.
Wood, who also pitched for the Indians (2009-10) and Yankees (2010), finished his career with 1,582 strikeouts, an 86-75 record and a 3.67 ERA. He is still active in the Chicago community and with the Cubs, helping with the pitchers.
Lockhart, 48, was the Reds' 11th-round pick in 1986, and played for the Padres, Royals and Braves over 10 seasons, compiling a .261 batting average.
The Cubs have the second overall pick, behind the Astros, in the Draft, which will begin at 6 p.m. CT on MLB Network and MLB.com.
Cubs claim Sanchez off waivers from Cards
PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Eduardo Sanchez off waivers from the Cardinals and assigned him to Triple-A Iowa.
The move was necessary for the Cardinals, who wanted to open a roster spot for pitcher Tyler Lyons. St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Sanchez had talent but wasn't consistent.
"We talked about him for a number of years about having some of the best swing-and-miss stuff in the organization with an electric slider," Matheny said. "But he just had trouble repeating staying in the strike zone. He had good life typically, but also could get very erratic. It was a tough mix for him to get past."
Sanchez, 24, had one save and a 3.72 ERA in nine relief appearances for Triple-A Memphis, giving up four earned runs over 9 2/3 innings. He has spent part of the last two seasons in the big leagues with the Cards, combining to go 3-2 with five saves and a 3.40 ERA in 43 relief appearances. Sanchez has 48 strikeouts over 45 innings, and he held opponents to a .166 batting average against.
The right-hander made his Major League debut in 2011 and went 3-1 with five saves and a 1.80 ERA in 26 relief appearances.
"It's a way to get another power arm, which we don't have in the Minor Leagues," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "His only problem is walking guys right now. We're trying to get some power arms in this organization, and that was a really nice waiver claim -- to get a 24-year-old kid who throws 94-to-98 miles an hour with a power slider."
The move was necessary for the Cardinals, who wanted to open a roster spot for pitcher Tyler Lyons.
• Outfielder Albert Almora, the Cubs' No. 1 Draft pick in 2012, will join Class A Kane County on Wednesday. Almora broke the hamate bone in his left hand on a swing during a Spring Training game in mid March, and had been rehabbing at the team's facility in Mesa, Ariz.
• Cubs owners Tom, Pete, Laura and Todd Ricketts were joined by Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer for the opening of the team's new academy in the Dominican Republic on Monday.
The 50-acre facility, built in La Jina, outside of Santo Domingo, cost between $6-8 million and will be open year-round. Players will have access to training facilities, baseball fields and housing, and there will be an education center.
Assistant general manager Randy Bush, Jason McLeod, director of player development and scouting; Louie Eljaua, director of international scouting; and Jose Serra, director of Dominican operations, also attended the opening.
• Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva is now clean shaven. He says he shaved his handlebar mustache and beard on Thursday's off-day to "shock" everyone.
"My wife's really happy," Villanueva said about his new look.
However, he's already starting to regrow a beard and mustache. What will he do next?
"It's a mystery," Villanueva said. "Keep 'em guessing."
• What happens in a game if both Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro are hurt? Who's the Cubs' emergency catcher?
"No one," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "I've asked around and nobody wants that title. You always ask that question somewhere along the line and nobody wants to step up. I can't blame them."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.