Cubs claim SS Valbuena off waivers

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs finally found their backup shortstop some 24 hours before Opening Day, claiming infielder Luis Valbuena off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.

To make room for the Venezuela native on the active roster, the Cubs will carry an 11-man pitching staff to start the season instead of the 12-man staff that was expected.

In addition to shortstop, Valbuena can play second base, third base, left and right field. He has three seasons of experience with the Cleveland Indians and one with the Seattle Mariners. In 229 major league games he has batted .226 with a .286 on-base percentage.

"I know he's a guy with some pop in his bat, not a huge guy but has some hitting ability," manager Dale Sveum said. "He put up some nice numbers last year in Triple-A. He brings the ability to do a lot of things and he hits left-handed which we're always striving to find."

Valbuena's most productive season came in 2009 with the Indians when he batted .250 over 103 games with 10 home runs and 31 RBI. He played in just 17 big league games last season but batted .302 with a .372 on-base percentage in 113 games at Triple-A Columbus.

To make room on the 40-man roster, reliever Frankie De La Cruz was outrighted. De La Cruz had been claimed off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers during spring training.