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Sweeney, Valbuena back to platoon for Cubs

The returns of lefthanded-hitting Ryan Sweeney and Luis Valbuena will mean platooning in the outfield and at third base in the last month of the season.

Manager Dale Sveum said he will rotate Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic in the outfield mix with Junior Lake, Nate Schierholtz and Darnell McDonald—though Schierholtz will get the majority of time in right field.

Valbuena will rotate with Donnie Murphy and Cody Ransom at third.

“We’ll give them an opportunity to show us what they have,’’ he said of the veterans.

“We don’t have young kids like last year,’’ he said of the September mix. “Now we have some older lefthanded bats to look at and see if they’re in the mix for next season.’’

Sweeney was hitting .295 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 44 games when he was injured hitting an outfield wall June 30 and fracturing a rib.

“They told me six to eight weeks [to recuperate] so I figured I’d in have the last month to play,’’ he said. “I hope I can build off what I was doing. Getting the opportunity to play everyday was huge.

“I’m going to stay aggressive,’’ he added of his defensive play.

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SURE-HANDED SCHIERHOLTZ

Schierholtz has been the team’s steadiest player all season, hitting .266 with a career-high 20 home runs and 62 RBI while playing mostly in a platoon situation against right-handed pitching.

“We couldn’t ask for much more from him,’’ Sveum said lauding the veteran. “His numbers are the equivalent of 30 homers and 100 RBI if he were to play every day, and he’s done a great job defensively, too.’’

Schierholtz was considered prime trade material in July because of his hitting success and experience on playoff teams. He has said he wants to remain with the Cubs and be part of the rebuilding.

LOST SEASON

Last year, prospects Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters were the focus as the season wound down. This season, neither might even be in the Cubs future plans.

Injuries have dogged both outfielder Jackson and third baseman Vitters and neither has played much this season.

In games they have played, they have continued to struggle at the plate, with Jackson even demoted from Class AAA Iowa to Class AA Tennessee.

“Things have changed a great deal this year,’’ Sveum admitted, with the organization focusing more on recent signees like Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Javier Baez and this year’s top draft pick Kris Bryant. “Player development-wise, it’s been a lost year for both of them. It’ll be a wait and see thing this winter,’’ he said of their futures.