Work not yet paying off for Cubs' Vitters

WASHINGTON –The move to the major leagues has been rough on Josh Vitters so far and the Cubs still aren’t seeing what they need out of the young third baseman.

After a solid Triple-A season, Vitters hasn’t been able to get going in the major leagues. He entered play Thursday batting .076 with a .127 on-base percentage and a .152 slugging percentage. He does have three extra-base hits, but just five hits total in 66 at-bats.

Asked if he is seeing enough from Vitters’ approach at the plate, manager Dale Sveum spoke in general terms and it didn’t sound like a compliment.

“I think it’s like anything, adjustments have to be applied in the game,” Sveum said. “We can do all the batting practice and teaching all we want, but if it isn’t applied in the game.

“That’s where you have to start evaluating. Can people apply it and make adjustments on the fly in a game?”

So far it doesn’t seem like it, although it isn’t as if Vitters is intentionally blowing off what he is being taught.

“They make us feel good and they make us feel comfortable,” Vitters said. “We’ve been preparing really hard and working a lot. I think it will start to show a little bit in the next few weeks to end the season strong.”

Now that he is in the major leagues he is being analyzed like never before, but Vitters doesn’t seemed bothered by any negative assessment of his game.

“I put more pressure on myself than anybody else does so I try to stick to my gameplan and stick to my approach of having quality at-bats every at-bat,” he said. “Things will turn for the better eventually.”

Vitters is still new enough at the big league level that his struggles can be chalked up to the awkward transition to big-league life. After all, Anthony Rizzo batted just .141 with a .281 on-base percentage and a .242 slugging percentage in 128 at-bats last season with the Padres.

But Vitters doesn’t project into a Rizzo type so his adjustments will be key as the staff works on maximizing the abilities he does have. Reducing his strikeouts and hitting from power alley to power alley could help his production levels.

“The hardest part of anything is the application of things during a major league baseball game,” Sveum said. “That’s the hardest thing about teaching is the game situations at hand.”