Ian Stewart dropped to 9th in Cubs’ order
By GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 8, 2012 11:02PM
Chicago Cubs v Minnesota Twins
Updated: July 10, 2012 6:11AM
MINNEAPOLIS — You know you’re going through a rough stretch when the National League team that trades for you drops you to ninth in the batting order exactly six months later.
But Cubs manager Dale Sveum doesn’t have a lot of other options when it comes to third base and the .201-hitting Ian Stewart.
‘‘That defense is tough to take out of the lineup,’’ Sveum said after dropping the former Colorado Rockie to ninth for the interleague game Friday in Minnesota. It was only the second time in his career that Stewart batted last.
Despite a two-hit game Friday, Stewart ran the Cubs out of the seventh inning when he got doubled off first on a fly to left. He also misplayed a grounder into a questionable hit in the second that led to a Twins run.
‘‘He’s a guy that hopefully gets hot, then he can carry you,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘But he’s got to get in there and play that defense and somehow figure something out and get hot and start carrying us. That’s too big of a bat to not at least, hopefully, [get more] consistent and [not as] streaky.’’
Meanwhile, don’t look for the next Anthony Rizzo at that position in the minors any time soon.
Josh Vitters, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 draft, is streaking at Class AAA Iowa — up to .267 with nine home runs — but he also has eight errors at third with a .938 fielding percentage.
And Sveum, who has watched him on video, makes it clear he’s not ready.
‘‘He’s been swinging the bat real well lately, but he’s the same guy,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘Not great command of the strike zone. He swings out of the strike zone, but he puts the ball in play and doesn’t strike out for that kind of hitter.
‘‘But he’s still got to develop defensively. That’s still not going all that great. He’s got to get a little better defensively before we think about that.’’
Speaking of Rizzo
One of baseball’s top hitting prospects is back in the lineup after a minor wrist injury, but Rizzo’s still not getting that call-up for interleague play that Sveum suggested three weeks ago could be in the offing.
Rizzo has more than two weeks to go before it even makes sense from a business standpoint to bring him up. Any sooner risks his service time, costing the Cubs a year of club control.
That puts him well past the last series the Cubs will have use of the DH, June 18-20 against the White Sox.
‘‘We thought better of it, and obviously we didn’t do it,’’ Sveum said of using the slugging first baseman for interleague play this weekend. ‘‘And there are no plans to do it against the White Sox, either.’’
The Cubs are thought to be among at least four or five teams making another round of bids on touted Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler this weekend.
The Cubs have been the most aggressive team in showing interest in Soler since the new front office took over last fall.
◆ Target Field became the 120th ballpark the Cubs have played in since 1876. The Cubs were 3-6 at the Metrodome, most recently getting swept in 2006.
◆ The Cubs are 4-27 when scoring fewer than four runs this season.