The Chicago Cubs have had a rough start to the 2013 season with six, yes six, players landing themselves on the ever-growing injury list.
Cubs’ third baseman Ian Stewart might be in danger of losing his job after being benched with a quad injury on February 23. Manager Dale Sveum said he expected Stewart to return around March 14, but that’s only three weeks before Opening Day, leaving him a minimal amount of time to prepare for the upcoming season.
Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad, except Stewart missed the majority of the 2012 season from wrist surgery. Can he help the Cubs this year, when he has spent more time on the DL than on the field recently?
Realistically, it’s not looking too good for the 28-year old. According to ESPN, Stewart only played 55 games last year with a weak batting average of .201. The Cubs can’t afford to take on a player who can’t get them hits and is hurt more often than not.
While Stewart signed a one-year $2 million contract with the Cubs during the off-season, the contract is not guaranteed. So if he’s not ready to play by Opening Day, the Cubs have the option of releasing him and only having to pay him a minor fee.
The next question is if Stewart isn’t ready to play by April 1, who will take over third base?
Right now, it seems like Luis Valbuena is their best bet.
Valbuena has had experience playing third base, as he took over when Stewart had wrist surgery last year. While the left-handed batter performed only slightly better at the plate than Stewart last season, he had an impressive off-season, batting .301 with a Venezuelan winter league, according to Cubs.com.
So what will happen in the coming weeks? Do the Cubs take the chance that Stewart will recover from his injury in time to prepare for Opening Day, or do they play it safe and give Valbuena the job at third?
The Cubs can’t afford to deal with any more injuries — it’s time to take a chance and start Valbuena at third base this year.