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Quad strain will hamper Ian Stewart’s chance to make team

MESA AZ - FEBRUARY 18:  Ian Stewart #2 poses during Chicago Cubs phoday February 18 2013 HoHoKam Park MesArizona.

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 18: Ian Stewart #2 poses during Chicago Cubs photo day on February 18, 2013 at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 159449534

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Updated: February 24, 2013 1:31PM

MESA, Ariz. — The diagnosis doesn’t seem to favor his chances, but the Cubs’ Ian Stewart says he’s confident that neither his injured left quad nor his non-guaranteed contract status will prevent him from being the Cubs’ third baseman on Opening Day.

MRI results revealed a “mild to moderate” strain that’s expected to keep Stewart sidelined 10 to 14 days, the team said Saturday.

“My confidence is so high right now in my ability that this is just kind of a little roadblock,” Stewart said, “and, hopefully, it doesn’t last the amount of time that they said.”

Some of the facts suggest a little more urgency involved in the situation, in particular that the club can avoid paying $1.67 million of his $2 million contract if Stewart is cut by March 16 and $1.5 million if cut after that but before Opening Day.

“To be honest, that’s not even a focus of mine,’’ he said. “Obviously, there’s a business side of the game. But I came back here to be a part of the major league team, so I’m not even thinking about that right now.’”

Manager Dale Sveum said Friday that Luis Valbuena — Stewart’s injury replacement for half the season last year after wrist surgery for Stewart — has a chance to win the third-base job, even if Stewart weren’t hurt.

This came several days after Sveum already had proclaimed that third base was Stewart’s ``job to win, not his job to lose.’’

But Stewart doesn’t seem to think that the potential for missing up to two weeks of games will hurt his chances to make the team.

“I would hope not,” he said. “I feel like I was brought back to be a part of the team and help this team, and I feel like I can do that. This is unfortunate, but I think if this was towards the end of camp or maybe in the middle it’d be a different story.”

Stewart hurt the quad rounding first base in Thursday’s intrasquad game after getting a double in his first competitive at-bat since June 12.

NOTE — Prospect Josh Vitters also had an MRI for a left quad injury and faced a nearly identical diagnosis and prognosis, the team said.

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