Chicago Cubs are taking a big chance on a player returning from injury and who
was oft-injured in the past three years. Third baseman Ian Stewart played in
only 55 games for the Cubs in 2012 due to a lingering wrist injury, hitting a
disappointing .201. His season ended in June, and he had surgery to repair the
wrist in July.
Stewart resumed baseball
activities in November, and he reports that he feels completely healthy for the
first time since 2010. Oblique strains caused him to miss the final month of
2010, and the wrist injury limited him to 48 games in 2011 and 55 in 2012. Said
Stewart, “The last time I was really fully healthy was 2010, and
even then I missed the last month with an oblique injury. The last few years
there have been lingering wrist issues and I really believe I've gotten that
taken care of….”
last full season – and most productive – was 2009 with the Colorado Rockies. He
hit only .228 that year, but he showed a lot of power with 25 home runs and 74
RBI. He was on a similar pace in 2010 before his season ended early. In 2010,
Stewart had a WAR of 2.0, meaning that his presence gave the Rockies two extra
wins over what a replacement player would have provided. That number has
dropped to -0.8 and 0.0 in the two years since.
Cubs will need more production from Stewart if they are to build toward
contention. He is one of the Cubs’ few veterans of five or more years in the
Majors. Even if he does not hit 25 home runs, he needs to find ways to get on
base. His OBA in those 55 games in 2012 was only .294 when the projected league average (lgOBP) was .324 for non-pitchers hitting in Wrigley Field.
can offer the intangible assets of veteran presence and leadership to help the
young Cubs develop into contenders. His offseason workouts with Hall-of-Fame
hitting star Rod Carew demonstrates those assets. Stewart has worked in two-week stints
with Carew since November in preparation for the upcoming season, and he reports no pain in
his wrist even with full game-speed swings.
Stewart says he is ready. If healthy, then he can give the Cubs some power at
the plate and leadership in the clubhouse that they will truly need. This would
be a big boost to the Cubs' offense.
Stewart Player Page, baseball-reference.com.
Appreciates Cubs’ Show of Support, cubs.mlb.com, February 4, 2013.Follow @mlbinjurynews
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