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Will DJ LeMahieu be the Cubs’ third baseman of the future?

With Aramis Ramirez expected become free agent end this seasDJ LeMahieu could be Cubs' plans third base.

With Aramis Ramirez expected to become a free agent at the end of this season, DJ LeMahieu could be in the Cubs' plans at third base.

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Updated: June 30, 2011 5:18PM

The Cubs got their rookie second baseman back from the disabled list on Wednesday — one day after sending the kid who might be their future third baseman back to the minors.

The Cubs are a long way from being able to reliably project their Opening Day infield for next year, much less the year after. But the way manager Mike Quade talks about rookie infielder DJ LeMahieu, don’t be surprised to see the kid get a chance to stick as a third baseman the next time he shows up during the 25-man roster period.

``There probably would be a debate among our people in the minor-league system about where he’s better,’’ Quade said of LeMahieu’s fielding at second and third. ``I respect those people, and if they’re not sure, that means he’s probably pretty good at both. From what I’ve seen at second, I’ve been real happy, so if he’s equally adept at third, that’s a good thing, for sure.’’

Especially with Darwin Barney - who returned from a knee injury on Wednesday and went 1-for-4 in a 2-1 victory over the Giants - in the process of locking down second base.

``Barney right now has established himself, no question,’’ Quade said. ``DJ’s career, maybe he winds up at third. Sometimes an opportunity presents itself elsewhere if you’re able to handle elsewhere.’’

Third base should be open by next spring, with incumbent Aramis Ramirez expected to become a free agent (pending the Cubs buying out his $16 million option).

LeMahieu, the first Cub from the 2009 draft (second round) to make it to the big leagues, hit .243 with a double in his 23-game debut, mostly at second base filling in for Barney.

``He’s handled himself extremely well. He hasn’t been in awe,’’ Quade said. ``It’s great anytime you can get guys that you’re looking at for future help to come up and handle themselves as well as he did.’’

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