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Ian Stewart won’t be stopped by wrist issue

Third baseman Ian Stewart says he ‘‘feels like I have brand-new wrist’’ after surgery last year. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Third baseman Ian Stewart says he ‘‘feels like I have a brand-new wrist’’ after surgery last year. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 22, 2012 10:19AM

MESA, Ariz. — Ian Stewart said he’s confident that the ‘‘nagging’’ soreness in his left wrist won’t become an issue this season.

But the player the Cubs are counting on to be their every-day third baseman and a key part of their lineup admits it’s going to take continued effort to make that happen.

‘‘It stinks to say, but I’ve got some nagging stuff that’s probably going to linger for a while,’’ Stewart said. ‘‘But it feels good. It’s a thing that’s probably not going to heal during the season. It’s not like it’s broken or anything. It’s more like an inflammation and just some general soreness. One of those things where if I had a whole year off, then it would get better.’’

Stewart wears a wrap when he’s on the field and does regular heat/ice treatment. He was sidelined for the final six weeks of last season with the Colorado Rockies because of inflammation in the wrist and spent much of the offseason rehabbing.

The Cubs traded for Stewart, a former first-round draft pick, and pitcher Casey Weathers in December for first-rounder Tyler Colvin and second-rounder DJ Lemahieu.

The idea was to buy low on a high-end talent who showed 25-homer power in 2009 and could rebound with good health. It’s an important part of the puzzle for the Cubs after losing run producers Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez in free agency.

‘‘You don’t notice it because every batting practice he takes, he swings it 100 percent,’’ manager Dale Sveum said of the wrist issue. ‘‘It’s something you monitor and whatever, but it hasn’t affected him at all this spring training.’’

Stewart, who characterized the original injury as ‘‘tendinitis,’’ first noticed the pain during batting practice in late August. He tried to play through it while it got worse.

The offseason rehab and continued treatment has kept it from affecting his performance this spring, and Stewart said he can keep it that way during the season with his maintenance program.

Realistically, the best-case scenario probably will involve occasional time off for Stewart, who actually has been more affected by a mild quad strain.

He returned to the lineup Tuesday after taking about a week off and walked in three at-bats against the Oakland Athletics. He’s hitting .294 in only 17 at-bats.

‘‘I have good days and bad days with [the wrist],’’ Stewart said. ‘‘It’s generally after [making] contact. So that’s why I’ve been happy about spring. After contact, I can deal with that better. If it’s before contact, then it’s hindering my swing. So it’s just something that you treat it and don’t let it get too sore and just try to keep your head on it.’’

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