Lillibridge projected to make Opening Day roster


(Photo by Stephen Green)

Earlier this week, the Cubs announced that third baseman Ian Stewart will begin the season on the disabled list with a lingering quad issue, further weakening a spot in the order that already lacked offensive punch in 2012. Manager Dale Sveum likes what he sees defensively in the multifaceted Luis Valbuena, who was solid with the glove last year and is currently hitting .282 in 42 plate appearances this spring. But it appears his inablilty to hit lefties (.196 in 2012) has opened the door for fellow utilityman Brent Lillbridge.

It sounds as if the 29-year-old right-hander will get his chances against lefties, at least to open the season, as Sveum has already said Lillibridge is a “no brainer” for the Opening Day roster. Despite hitting just .195 for the White Sox, Boston and Cleveland last season, Lillibridge has crushed Spring Training pitching, hitting .458 in 24 plate appearances. His addition will also give the Cubs some defensive flexibility, as he played every position but pitcher and catcher last year.

In 2011, his finest season in the majors, Lillibridge hit .258/.340/505 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 13 homers and stole 10 bases in 97 games. With Wandy Rodriguez in the Pirates’ front three, don’t be surprised to see Lillibridge get the start at least once in the opening series.

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