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Cubs Find Their Backup Shortstop In Luis Valbuena

It looks like the Chicago Cubs have finally find their backup shortstop.

After rolling for the 2011 season without a true backup to Starlin Castro, and through this spring without one, the Cubs claimed shortstop Luis Valbuenaoff of waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

It’s better late than never for the Cubs, who grabbed Valbuena off waivers the day before they are set to take on the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field on Opening Day.

The move means that the Cubs will go with 11 pitchers to start the season, rather than the 12 they were expected to hold onto on the staff to start the season. Valbuena was added right onto the active roster before Thursday.

Valbuena was in his first spring with the Jays, but hit just .163 in 24 games this spring. The former Cleveland Indian spent most of his time in Triple A last season, batting .302. His best season in the bigs came in 2009, when he hit .250 and knocked in 31 runs in 398 plate appearances with the Tribe.

Valbuena will help to make up the bench of this Cubs team, which includes Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker on the infield, along with Joe Mather, who will also make appearances in the outfield.

DeWitt will likely back up second and occasionally third, with Baker handling the corners. That leaves Valbuena as the primary backup to Castro at shortstop, though the playing time there will obviously be limited.

It’s an interesting move considering how thin the bullpen already is, but the Cubs now have a true middle infielder on the bench now. We’ll have to see how the rest of the roster shapes up early on in the season. We could also see another pitcher added to the roster once Bryan LaHair‘s back issues are settled.