Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Stewart (quad) to open on DL

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MESA, Ariz. - In what may have seemed inevitable for at least the last few days, the Cubs on Tuesday morning said third baseman Ian Stewart will open the season on the disabled list.

The announcement came after MRI results on his injured quad showed a "pocket of fluid" remaining in the area he first injured running out a double Feb. 21 during an intrasquad game.

Stewart suffered a setback with the quad the first day he returned to action, in a minor-league game Thursday in which he batted five times.

"There was a couple check swings where I felt that muscle pull,'' he said.

"I just know there's still pain there,'' he added. "It's been frustrating. Just because I could do pretty much everything somewhat pain-free but without being able to run. I know what it's like to play through pain. And that's what's hard about this, that I can't get through that pain and play with it, because it's just too much."

The Stewart decision means Luis Valbuena is the Cubs' Opening Day third baseman and will get at least most of the starts until Stewart returns.

Right-handed hitting Brent Lillibridge - who now is assured of making the roster, Sveum said - could share time with Valbuena at third because he hits left-handers especially well, Sveum said.

The decision also means the Cubs officially have chosen to swallow the full $2 million of Stewart's deal instead of taking the discount option of releasing him before rosters are set and owing him only $500,000.

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The date for opening day gets closer, and I do not see the Cubs with a regular third baseman. Both Valbuena and Lillibridge struggle to hit over.200. Valbuena seems capable of getting occasional clutch hits and is comp[etent on defense, but is not an Aramis Ramirez. Stewart struck me as the best choice by far at third if he is healthy, but his tradition of getting easily injured is very bad news and strikes against his being a player to count on.Maybe it is time for the Cubs to get seriously in the hunt for a long-term third baseman who can emulate Ramirez at least on RBI's.

I really hope Stewart gets off the disabled list and can string together a large number of starts at third so that we can see if he is worth keeping for the long haul, the way Ramirez was. Right now,the Cubs have semi-viable players at third on a platoon system of one sort or another, but an everyday third baseman is clearly a definite need.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 19, 2013 12:51 PM.

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