The MRI results on Ian Stewart's quad came in today, and the Chicago Cubs' third baseman will likely miss 10-14 days with a strain. This is bad news for Stewart, but not necessarily a bad thing for the Cubs. The team will get a chance to evaluate some of their younger talent in more detail early on, and considering Stewart's contract is not guaranteed, he may have to work harder than expected to make the 25-man rotation.
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Carrie Muskat of MLB.com does not think Stewart's injury will affect his chances at making the 25-man roster, but that may have been before reporters spoke with manager Dale Sveum today. According to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago, Sveum said Stewart will have to cram to be ready to go by mid-march.
The suggestion is that if Stewart does not get some time in to prove he is ready, he may not make the Opening Day roster. Of course, Stewart hopes his injury won't hurt his chances with the club.
"I would hope not," Stewart said when asked if he thought the injury would hurt his chances. "I feel like I was brought back to be a part of the team and to help this team, and I feel like I can do that. This is unfortunate, but I think if this was toward the end of camp or the middle, it may be a different story."
Stewart was re-signed to a $2 million non-guaranteed contract this offseason after spending last year in Chicago. Stewart only played in 55 games last year because of injuries, and the Cubs may be concerned about something similar happening this year. Stewart was a solid third baseman with the Colorado Rockies, but he has yet to prove himself with the Cubs.
Stewart, 27, played his first five years in the league with the Rockies. In his time with Colorado, Stewart was a .236/.323/.428 hitter. In limited action with the Cubs last year, Stewart hit just .291/.292/.335. He didn't quite live up to the $2.2 million the Cubs paid him in 2012.
Given the club's current make-up and their chances at competing anytime soon, Chicago may simply keep Stewart on the roster (if healthy) and allow their younger players to develop.
Sveum already has plans for Luis Valbuena to fill in for Stewart over the next couple weeks. However, Valbuena has not been much of an upgrade and probably wouldn't be a go-to player in exchange for Stewart.