Vitters returns as Cubs face Rockies

Third baseman Josh Vitters is back in the lineup Tuesday as the Chicago Cubs open the final stretch of their schedule with nine games against non contenders.

Vitters, Dave Sappelt and Joe Mather were all scheduled to play in the opener of a three-game series in Denver against the Colorado Rockies.

Vitters has started just once since Sept. 16 and that opportunity only came about because Luis Valbuena was dealing with a sore knee.

Vitters has been overmatched at the plate since arriving to the major leagues at the start of August and manager Dale Sveum elected to play him sparingly on the homestand in games against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis, all of which were playoff contenders at the time the Cubs faced them.

Vitters is batting just .167 this month and .114 in 88 at-bats since he arrived in the big leagues.

The Cubs have just three series remaining this season with the three at Colorado this week, three at Arizona over the weekend and a three-game series at home next week against the Houston Astros to close out the season.

Only the Diamondbacks have not been completely eliminated from reaching the playoffs but they began Tuesday 5 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot with nine games to play.

The Cubs and Rockies began the series with identical 59-94 records. The only team with a worse record in baseball is the Houston Astros at 50-104.

The Cubs’ complete Tuesday lineup against the Rockies:

1. Sappelt, RF

2. Darwin Barney, 2B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Starlin Castro, SS

6. Welington Castillo, C

7. Vitters, 3B

8. Mather, CF

9. Chris Rusin, P