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Cubs have new faith in 3B prospect Vitters

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

MESA, Ariz. — One of the Cubs’ more significant developments this spring might not show up in Chicago for another year. But the impression Josh Vitters made at third base could have ramifications for the roster and payroll by the fall.

Vitters, the third overall draft pick in 2007 who raised doubts in recent seasons about whether he could play third base in the big leagues, has made at least one important Cubs official believe in him.

‘‘Yes, I do,’’ manager Mike Quade said without hesitation Tuesday, the day Vitters and 16 other prospects were sent out of big-league camp on the biggest cut-down day of the spring. ‘‘What I saw this spring, yeah, it’s a definite possibility. And if he makes the kind of progress at third this year to next year that he made from last year to now, he’s going to be a good third baseman.’’

Vitters, always a strong hitting prospect, has been stalled by injuries, including a season-ending broken finger last July. A strong season this year that includes progress at third could put him back in the Cubs’ plans as their third baseman of the future — maybe even as they start mulling Aramis Ramirez’s $16  million option for 2012.

Play ball!

Tuesday’s cuts put the active roster at 39 and signaled a two-week mad scramble for starting jobs and roster spots.

Four pitchers were optioned out: Robert Coello and Thomas Diamond to Class AAA Iowa and Alberto Cabrera and Kyle Smit to Class AA Tennessee.

Sent to minor-league camp without specific assignments were Vitters, 2009 first-round pick Brett Jackson and 11 other non-roster guys: pitchers Chris Carpenter, Jay Jackson, Trey McNutt and Scott Rice; catchers Steve Clevinger and Chris Robinson; infielders Bryan LaHair and Marquez Smith; and outfielders Jim Adduci, Lou Montanez and Brad Snyder.

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