Vitters enjoys short stint in Venezuelan league

MESA, Ariz. -- Josh Vitters' Venezuelan experience statistically lasted two games, but the Cubs' third-base prospect got much more from his short stint.

Vitters, 23, went to Venezuela in November to play for Leones del Caracas. He went 0-for-7, striking out twice in two games, Nov. 16 and 18, playing third base in one game and batting as the designated hitter in another.

And then he was sent home. What happened?

"Our third baseman was playing really well at the time," Vitters said Tuesday. "I went down there and they didn't have a spot for me, so I came back home."

The Cubs' No. 1 Draft pick in 2007, who has a .283 average in the Minor Leagues, Vitters stayed in Venezuela as long as he could.

"They had me practicing in the wings, trying to keep me ready just in case," he said. "It was a first-class organization. It wasn't a bad experience. It was just unfortunate I didn't get more chances to play."

The Cubs wanted Vitters to get more at-bats after he batted .121 in 36 games last season in his first big league action. He'd planned on staying longer.

"It was one of those situations that you really can't control," he said. "I worked hard down there. It was more productive for me than not doing anything. I got to watch games, play in some games and practiced every day and stayed in shape. It was still beneficial."

On Monday, Vitters was working out at first base during drills. He hopes to get more action in the Cactus League than he did in Venezuela.

"I'm going to be playing mainly third, as usual, and playing first base and also corner outfield in Spring Training," he said. "I'm just trying to increase my versatility to be more valuable to the team. I'm excited about it."

He's now spent offseasons in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

"I've got a lot of stamps [on my passport] -- I'm proud of those," he said.