Yesterday we learned that Chicago Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart’s second opinion on his wrist sounded a whole lot like the first: we just don’t know what the issue is. All we know is that, after a couple serious wrist injuries in his career, he now experiences daily discomfort, which had reached the point where he could no longer play effectively. So, he received a cortisone injection, which will hopefully allow him to continue playing this year.
Unfortunately, Stewart sounds pretty down about the whole thing, which I suppose is understandable.
“My options now are just to see if this cortisone works and give it four, five days when I’m on the [disabled list] to really let it sink in and work and then slowly get a program going off the tee,” Stewart said Wednesday, according to Carrie Muskat. “If the shot works, then it’ll carry me through the season and maybe get another one in another six weeks or so. If it doesn’t, then we may have to go the other route. We’re just going to see how it feels.”
Stewart was then asked if he’ll just have to deal with discomfort for the rest of the season.
“Hopefully not,” Stewart said. “Hopefully, this works and I start playing again and hitting and it’s really a non-issue. If it gets to the point where it’s affecting my swing still, there are other options we can take, and hopefully we don’t have to take that route.”
I know that many of you aren’t the biggest Stewart fans, and he certainly hasn’t produced at the plate for the Cubs this year (even accounting for some bad luck earlier in the year). But I can’t help but be bummed seeing a guy who, coming up, was one of the top talents in baseball, now reduced to having to hope he can tolerate a serious wrist problem with cortisone injections long enough to finish out a season. If he doesn’t jack up his wrist a few years ago, and then again last year, who knows what might have been? I guess he probably never would have been on the Cubs.
As for the Josh Vitters piece, you may have thought that the question in the title was thoughtful in one direction, but it’s actually rhetorical in the other direction. Vitters isn’t getting a look for a great many reasons.
First, and foremost, he simply isn’t ready yet. Although he’s been on a hot streak of late, he’s still hitting just .280/.330/.468 in the hitter-friendly PCL. His defense is still a work in progress at third base, and he needs time to continue to hone his craft.
Second, there’s no rush. Vitters is still just 22, one of the younger players in AAA, and he’s had just 270 AAA plate appearances. Even if Vitters spent another full year from this moment on at AAA, he’d still be coming up to the big leagues as a 23-year-old who spent a year and a half in AAA. That’s completely normal. It’s always felt like Vitters was slowly developing because he was drafted at just 17, and the expectations put on the kid selected third overall in 2007 were sky high. He’s always been young for his level, and that would be exceedingly true if he tried to break into the bigs right now.
Vitters might be the long-term future at third base, and he might not be. But rushing him to the big leagues right now simply because Ian Stewart is hurt would almost certainly do more harm than good for his development.