Vitters' first HR lost in runaway inning

MILWAUKEE -- Only Josh Vitters will want to remember the fifth inning Monday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Shortly after crushing his first major league home run, the Chicago Cubs were buried under an avalanche of eight Brewers runs, six of which came with two outs. Vitters was even trumped when the Brewers closed out their scoring with back-to-back home runs from Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez.

It hasn’t been an easy transition for Vitters into big league life, but Monday marked a bright spot. He entered the game batting just .091 and had limited opportunities over the weekend even though manager Dale Sveum said during the last homestand that he wanted to get his young third baseman more playing time.

The chance to start Monday and the home run to follow were reassuring for a youngster in just his 11th major league game.

“It felt really good, it’s just a shame it couldn’t have done a little bit more,” Vitters said. “It’s kind of good for my confidence right now and hopeful. I’m going to work on seeing balls and hitting more balls like I did tonight.”

He did strike out twice so it wasn’t a perfect evening by any stretch of the imagination, but he did make progress in one area.

“He has to identify his sliders a little better even though he hit a slider,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He didn’t get a guy over in the first inning. I don’t know what was going on there. But that’s what they’re here for -- to see major league breaking balls and to evaluate them on what is needed to go to the next step.”

Despite the low batting average, Vitters believed the final six weeks are plenty of time to show the coaching staff what it needs to see.

“I’m a really confident guy so my confidence never drops too low,” Vitters said. “But it is nice to have it reassured a little bit. I’ve been doing really good, feeling good and I’m excited to play more baseball.”

Defense is still a work in progress as well. Vitters threw two balls in the dirt with two outs that first baseman Anthony Rizzo managed to dig out and turn into outs.

But there is progress being made and despite Sveum’s concern over his ability to identify breaking balls, Vitters is sure he can make progress in that area too.

“He was hammering with the breaking balls all day so it was nice to make the adjustment and get one,” Vitters said. “Every day I come in here and take batting practice and play games, and even if I’m not playing, just the feeling of being here grows inside of me. I’m starting to feel really comfortable here and I’m really excited for the future.”