For handful of Cubs prospects, future is now

For handful of Cubs prospects, future is now

For handful of Cubs prospects, future is now
CHICAGO -- It's only August, but the Cubs are starting to play like it's September.

Chicago already has three top prospects playing more or less every day, with first baseman Anthony Rizzo, center fielder Brett Jackson and third baseman Josh Vitters. Plus, the Cubs are continuing to play hard despite being out of the playoff picture, beating the first-place Reds on Thursday to extend Cincinnati's losing streak to five games.

Manager Dale Sveum said his team will continue to compete hard and play the game the right way for the rest of the season.

"You'd always want that done if you were on the other end of things, to help the other teams out or knock people out of the playoffs and all that," Sveum said. "When you're not in the pennant race, those are the things you play for, too, as a player."

Before Thursday's victory, the Cubs' eight-game losing streak nullified an 18-10 stretch during which they played their best baseball of the season. The skid began on July 31 -- when the Cubs traded pitchers Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm, as well as catcher Geovany Soto.

Since then, Chicago has been in rebuilding mode, adding Jackson and Vitters to the roster on Sunday. Sveum knows the coming months may bring growing pains, but going through them also is the best way to assess and develop the youngsters.

"Tough times or not, you have to be able to show the ability to handle adversity and all those kinds of things," Sveum said. "That's part of the whole maturing and the evaluation that we're going to be doing, is the evaluation of the character of people, as well as the talent we have."

With Rizzo, Jackson, Vitters and other young players already with the Cubs, Sveum admitted the club likely will have fewer September callups than usual.

Those who do join that trio likely will play, as the Cubs continue to look to build toward the future. And just because some guys might get an extended look, that doesn't guarantee them a roster spot for 2013, Sveum said.

"The development, the taking a look-see at everything, the guys that are here -- obviously, what's going to be out there, all kinds of things can happen during the winter," Sveum said. "I don't care who you are in this organization. We're all doing a lot of evaluating right now and seeing what we're going to need and who needs to develop more."