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Cubs’ Ian Stewart will open season on DL

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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