Winter League Highlights: Valbuena stays solid at the plate
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Luis Valbuena‘s winter play has been a hot topic of discussion for Cubs fans this entire offseason. Though the coaching staff was impressed with his glove in 2012, it’s his bat that’s been opening eyes in the Venezuelan league. Not only did the infielder’s Cardenales de Lara side capture the final spot in the circuit’s round robin postseason tourney, but Valbuena was a key component in an offense that ranked near the top in many categories.
Though the re-signing of third baseman Ian Stewart might have blocked Valbuena’s best chance to play every day for the Cubs in 2013, he again demonstrated his ability to play multiple positions, including second base, his natural position, and third, where he spent most of his time in 2012. His flexibility around the infield as well as his solid glove work might give him the inside track at a hotly contested utility spot on the Opening Day roster.
The 27-year-old finished the winter league regular season hitting .306/.414/.497 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 183 at-bats and drawing 34 walks, second best on the team. He recorded a team best 15 doubles, and his six homers ranked second. The Venezuelan native also scored 32 runs.
The Cardenales dropped their opening game of the postseason 10-6, though Valbuena recorded a single and scored one of the team’s runs. Lara hosts Caribes on Thursday.
Notes around the Caribbean:
Esmailin Caridad picked up the win for the Yaquis de Obregon of the Mexican league Wednesday. The right-handed reliever pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, fanning two and walking one.
Justin Bour had a base hit in a losing effort for the Gigantes de Carolina of the Puerto Rican league.