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Cubs suspend Ian Stewart after Twitter comments

Updated: June 12, 2013 4:11PM

As Cubs transgressions go, it didn’t reach Carlos Zambrano or Milton Bradley levels.

But third baseman Ian Stewart’s Twitter shots at the organization and manager Dale Sveum during a late-night tweet-chat with fans gave the front office an avenue to take back at least a few thousand dollars from the $2 million it feels it wasted in re-signing him last winter.

Citing the standard ‘‘loyalty clause’’ in a player’s contract, Cubs president Theo Epstein said Stewart was suspended without pay Tuesday for a string of overnight tweets, including one that said the Cubs ‘‘are going to let me Rott [sic] in AAA’’ and another that said Sveum ‘‘doesn’t like me.’’

Just the latest sideshow to overshadow another loss by the last-place Cubs, this time x-x to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.

The length of the suspension, which is worth roughly $11,000 per day, hasn’t been finalized, pending ‘‘legal hoops,’’ Epstein said.

Stewart has been buried on the bench at Class AAA Iowa since the Cubs optioned him to the minors after a 4-for-44 injury-rehab assign- ment there. They subsequently waived him and outrighted him off the 40-man roster when he ticked off the front office by taking his maximum-allowed three days to report.

Stewart’s agent, Larry Reynolds, responded Tuesday by saying that if Stewart isn’t in the Cubs’ plans, ‘‘It is in the best interest of both parties for the Cubs to release him and end this relationship.’’

That won’t happen any time soon, if only because that would put the Cubs on the hook for the balance of Stewart’s full salary.

The Cubs already had told Stewart he could take a negotiated discount. On Tuesday, Epstein said ‘‘those conversations are in play.’’

‘‘He had the right to elect free agency and decided not to,’’ Epstein said, referring to the outright assignment. ‘‘So he decided to become a minor-league player with us.’’

Stewart issued a three-tweet apology Tuesday.

‘‘I think he made a mistake, and I think he apologized for it,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘I don’t see it as a huge deal, but I do see it as something that requires discipline and something that’s not acceptable.’’

Sveum, who was no fan of Twitter even before this flap, disputed Stewart’s perception of his feelings.

‘‘I liked him enough to be in his [corner] to bring him back,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘It’s unfortunate that somebody can be that unprofessional to tweet something like that about an organization. It reflects on everybody here.’’

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