Cubs option spring surprise Vizcaino to Triple-A

Cubs option spring surprise Vizcaino to Triple-A

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs optioned outfielders Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Zac Rosscup, and infielder Christian Villanueva, to Triple-A Iowa, and assigned catcher Rafael Lopez, outfielder Mitch Maier and pitcher Armando Rivero to Minor League camp on Tuesday.

Vizcaino, who has not pitched in a big league game since 2011 because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, had been a nice surprise this spring, throwing 98 mph fastballs. He gave up two hits and struck out two over three innings in three Cactus League games,.

"We're still following the plan and want to make sure he gets his innings in a controlled environment and kind of ease him back in," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "He needs to get in more game situations and things of that nature and make sure he can handle it all and see where it's at."

If Vizcaino continues to progress, he'll likely be one of the first relievers promoted to the big leagues.

"He's got a great arm and needs to continue to command his fastball and do all the other things that the game asks him to do," Renteria said. "If there's a need, he's a nice guy to have. The depth he gives us is real nice."

Jackson, the Cubs' first-round pick in 2009 who led the Pacific Coast League in 2012 in strikeouts, was 4-for-20 this spring with 10 Ks.

"I don't worry too much about his strikeouts because I think there's a lot of damage that comes with his stick," Renteria said. "If his approaches are good and he gets pitches he can handle, it's going to be good. He does have the ability to recognize the zone pretty well and I think I saw that this spring. He plays nice center field, and he'll work in the corners, too. He's a pretty good-looking player."

Vitters, another Cubs' first-round pick who is switching from infield to outfield, was 2-for-17 with 11 strikeouts, but Renteria saw lots of positives.

"He had some really good at-bats, missed a couple balls," Renteria said. "That's the thing about these guys having to get their at-bats now so they can get their work. He's been working diligently in the outfield."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.