Injury hindering Ian Stewart’s chances of making Cubs’ roster
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org March 10, 2013 10:49PM
Chicago Cubs' Ian Stewart bunts against the Miami Marlins in the third inning of a baseball game in Miami, Thursday, April 19, 2012. Stewart was safe on first base. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Updated: March 10, 2013 10:51PM
MESA, Ariz. — Third baseman Ian Stewart might miss even more time than anticipated, depending on how his strained left quad fares during running drills Monday.
But the Cubs appear to be leaving open the possibility of biting a $2 million bullet and giving Stewart more time to get ready for the season.
In a change of tone regarding Stewart’s status with the team, club officials Sunday said multiple options remain on the table, including opening on the disabled list and doing a minor-league rehab assignment.
If the Cubs cut Stewart before the opener, they’re on the hook for only $500,000 of his $2 million deal.
“That’s really the last thing I worry about,” Stewart reiterated. “I’m just trying to get myself healthy. I know I can help this team out, and I have all the confidence in the world with Theo [ Epstein ] and the guys that they brought me back here to be part of the team. Whether that’s Opening Day or not, or finding a little extra time to get ready for the season, then so be it.”
Manager Dale Sveum, who last week indicated the Cubs did not consider the DL an option for Stewart, said persistent tightness in the quad during running drills Saturday could push Stewart’s Cactus League debut into at least next weekend.
Asked what that does for the “cram session” he already said Stewart faced for making the club, Sveum said, “It’s getting a little more crammy.”
But Stewart, who has been taking batting practice and fielding practice, said he did everything Sunday he would normally do to prepare for a game and that the quad felt good enough that he thinks he might still make his planned return Friday — “could be earlier.”
Sveum favorite Luis Valbuena is considered a strong defensive option to take over the position, as he did when Stewart was injured last year. And Valbuena is having an especially strong spring offensively.
“I feel like I’m the third baseman here until they get rid of me,’’ Stewart said. ‘‘I feel like if I’m healthy and I’m ready to go, then I’ll be playing third every day.’’
After a series of tests with the training staff “went well” Sunday morning, Matt Garza (lat strain) said he expects to restart a throwing program after Tuesday’s scheduled day off.
The field staff and medical staff were to meet by Monday morning to plan a detailed schedule for Garza, who might have time for one Cactus League start before the end of camp.
He’s expected to miss the first two to four weeks of the season.
Shortstop Starlin Castro (hamstring) and utility man Brent Lillibridge (groin) look ready to play, Sveum said, and are scheduled to return to the lineup Wednesday after the day off. “I feel good,” Castro said.
◆ Scott Baker, who’s working back from Tommy John surgery, and Carlos Villanueva are scheduled to pitch in a minor-league game Tuesday when the rest of the team has the day off. It’s Baker’s first game competition since Sept. 24, 2011.