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Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano left yesterday’s series opener against the Houston Astros in the first inning yesterday with a strained quad, which he suffered while trying to leg out a grounder.

He had an MRI yesterday, but the results aren’t expected until later today. Even if the results are good and he avoids a DL stint, Soriano’s likely to miss some time. In his absence, Mike Quade plans to go not with any of the handful of outfielders the Cubs have called up in recent days, but instead with the man who, until a week ago, had never played in the outfield: Blake DeWitt.

“It’s unfortunate to see Sori go down like that,” DeWitt said. “I haven’t heard anything, but hopefully he’s all right. He’s a big part of this team. It’s a tough loss today.”

The Cubs have dealt with multiple injuries lately. They placed Jeff Baker on the disabled list earlier Monday, and he joined Reed Johnson (back), Marlon Byrd (face), Andrew Cashner (shoulder) and Matt Garza (elbow) on the DL.

DeWitt, who has never played the outfield in the big leagues until this year, went 3-for-4, including an RBI triple in the third in the Cubs’ 12-7 loss to the Astros. He will get the bulk of playing time unless the Cubs tap into the farm system again.

“I’ll give him a shot,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “I know he slips and falls on the one ball, but he throws the guy out at the plate [in the seventh] and gets three hits. I’d like to keep his bat in the lineup. He’s worked hard in left field. Why not?” cubs.com.

I suspect that the decision to keep DeWitt in the outfield while Soriano is out has less to do with keeping his bat in the lineup and more to do with cultivating DeWitt’s versatility.

It has become increasingly unlikely that DeWitt will have a starting spot longterm with the Cubs. At the same time, he’s still just 25 – the same age as Darwin Barney – so there’s time to mold him into a valuable player. If he’s to have value to the Cubs going forward, it will probably have to be in a utility role. And a guy who can play second, third, short, left and right field is a whole lot more valuable than a guy who can just play second and third. The same guy will have more value to other teams as well.

For once, I am inclined to agree with one of Quade’s non-traditional ideas.

  • Ron

    When Aram goes down today then DJ can play third…just kidding, sort of.

    • Ace

      Indeed… sort of.

  • jerryMac

    If you want to get DeWitt some playing timesubramirez or Barney once in awhile. The team called up some prospects. It is unfair to them to sit on the bench and rot. Let’s see what they can do.

  • al

    and he sort of looks like dero!!

    • Ace

      If DeWitt could be a DeRosa-like player, even if not quite as good as DeRosa, he’d be immensely valuable to the Cubs over the next four, five years.

  • Roughriider

    Deja Vu. 1985 all over again.

    • Roughriider

      Except the 1985 team was better.

  • Jeff

    While it sounds good in principle, I am not falling for Hendry and Quade’s lies and propaganda anymore. DeWitt is starting because he is a veteran that Hendry has invested in. They obviously don’t trust the young guys, so the vets who give the team the best chance to “win now”, will continue to get the majority of the playing time, regardless of what’s best for the future of the team. I like DeWitt and think he will be valuable as a utility guy, but he could still be a utility guy sharing starts with one of the call ups rotting on the bench.

    • Hogie

      Both of the other outfield callups (Snyder and Montanez) are 3-4 years older than Dewitt. I don’t think that Dewitt will ever be all that good, but I would rather have him develop than a couple of 29 year old AAAA guys. If you are looking to develop for the future, that is what you are getting with Blake in left.

      • Ace

        Gotta agree.

  • korean goat

    Third baseman for dewitt. he is a infielder not outfielder and has a better bat than aramis

    • Ace

      I’m not sure DeWitt’s bat will ever carry third base.

      • Michigan Goat

        Agreed, one of the interesting decisions this off season or even the trade deadline will be to play “Who’s on Third”… hopefully one of our prospects will take the position, but if not we will have to consider finding a 1/2 year rental.

        • Ace

          Yup. Third base is a huge, huge question mark going into 2012.

          • Michigan Goat

            And I just looked at mlbtraderumor.com list of 2012 & 2013 3B free agents… nothing exciting there, trading for David Wright looks better and better. Plus we might have some decent trade bait since we have a couple of average 3B prospects and Dewitt. Here’s to hoping a new GM can make the right decision.

          • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

            I’ll do it. I’m even willing to take the MLB minimum – no signing bonus required!

            What’s the drug test policy again?

            • Ace

              Pee test, every three hours, 360 days a year.

              • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

                So the other five days a year are open. Hrm….

                • Ace

                  Everyone’s gotta party a little bit.

  • auggie1955

    Hats off to Soriano! I think this the latest he’s ever gone before becoming injured since he signed with the Cubs. If you had 5/30 in the pool you’re a winner! How long will the Cubs wait before putting him on the DL?

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      How ’bout today?

  • Cheryl

    The playing of DeWitt may be because he’s a veteran or it may be because of trade possibilities. I was not in favor of it before because of the other outfielders on the bench bukt I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for now.

    • Ace

      The other outfielders on the bench are three and four years older than DeWitt…

  • Jeff

    I am really interested in seeing how the team performs over the next couple of weeks. There are going to be a lot of young guys getting a good amount of playing time. I almost wish ARam would go ahead and take a couple of weeks of now and get healthy to showcase himself at the deadline.

    I don’t think DeWitt has the bat to carry third base full time, but his numbers are similar to what ARam is putting up, and he comes at a fraction of the cost. Third base is going to be a problem for the next couple of seasons unless whoever is running things pulls off a trade or one of the prospects breaks out and takes the job.

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