We’ve been waiting patiently for someone to get Ian Stewart to discuss openly the last few weeks, which have seen him struggle in a rehab stint at Iowa, be activated from the disabled list only to be optioned to Iowa, take 72 hours to report to Iowa even though he was already there, and then ultimately be waived and taken off of the 40-man roster. He now mostly rides the bench at AAA.
It was quite a turn of events for the guy the Cubs traded for in late 2011 to be the next third baseman, and the guy the Cubs guaranteed another $2 million to come back in 2013 after his 2012 season was ended early by wrist problems.
So … what happened? How’s he dealing with it? What was with the 72 hours to report thing?
Tommy Birch at the Des Moines Register has the interview, and it’s a fascinating read if you’re into this story at all.
With respect to that 72-hour sojourn, Stewart essentially confirmed that he was surprised and disappointed by the Cubs’ decision not to bring him back up to the big club when his rehab assignment – during which he’d hit .091 with 16 strikeouts in 44 at bats – ended. He decided then to take his CBA-permitted 72 hours to spend with his wife, who had come to Iowa to visit him that weekend anyway. Stewart says he never understood why the 72-hour thing was such a big deal.
The article is worth reading for a little more background on Stewart’s family – these things are always more complex than a couple tweets or a short news piece can convey – and his thoughts on where he stands within the organization. (Spoiler alert on the last one: the fact that Josh Vitters has been starting at third rather than Stewart is not lost on Stewart. Then again, Vitters is dealing with a quad strain, so maybe Stewart will now get some starts.)
It sounds, generally, like Stewart simply didn’t expect to be left behind based on the injury and early ineffectiveness at Iowa. Given how Luis Valbuena was playing, though, it’s hard to see how the Cubs could have proceeded any other way. You know that the Cubs wanted Stewart to be the guy at third this year, and anything short of what happened probably would have seen Stewart still get the third base job when he was ready to go.
Unfortunately for Stewart, and maybe for the Cubs, it was a perfect storm. And now the Cubs and Stewart are each probably hoping that there’s another, better opportunity out there for him.