The third base position has been a center of discussion for Cubs fans for the past several weeks. The discussion started in early August when the Cubs promoted third baseman Josh Vitters to the Major League level. Vitters being the prospect that has been hyped as the team’s third baseman of the future since being drafted by the Cubs with the third overall selection in the 2007 first year player draft. Vitters’ struggles at the Major League level over the past month have been heavily documented, and his struggles have reached a point to where Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum has essentially ended the Vitters’ experiment for the 2012 season.
That has lead to speculation about what the Cubs will do at the third base position for the start of the 2013 season. You can scratch Vitters off the list as potential opening day third baseman for 2013, as it would seem that the third baseman will start the season with the Iowa Cubs. There has been speculation that the Cubs could pursue Kevin Youkilis, who Theo Epstein would be very familiar with.
One option that has been suggested is Ian Stewart. When the Cubs traded for Stewart this past winter, Epstein was confident that Stewart’s wrist problems were behind him and he would finally be able to return to the power production that he displayed when he first debuted in the Major Leagues with the Colorado Rockies. As we know, Stewart has not played a game for the Cubs since the first half of the season before he had season ending wrist surgery. With Stewart having wrist surgery, the thought is that his struggles with his wrist are finally behind him and Stewart should show signs of returning to form on offense. Stewart also indicated that he would be open to returning to the Cubs at a discounted price.
However, Sveum recently made comments about Stewart that could suggest that Stewart is not in the Cubs’ plans for 2013. Sveum was asked about the Stewart’s rehab to which he offered this response that he has “lost track” of Stewart’s progress while rehabbing from his wrist surgery. Sveum noted that Stewart has been rehabbing at home. In a similar case, Matt Garza–who is also sidelined for the remainder of the team–has been rehabbing with the team. Stewart has not been seen with the Cubs in several weeks.
This could be my own speculation, but those comments by Sveum and the fact that Stewart has not been with the team would seem to indicate that Stewart is not in the long-term plans for the Cubs. Now, this could be the way that Sveum/Stewart and/or the Cubs opted to handle the third baseman’s rehab. There are teams who prefer for injured players to be away from the team while they are rehabbing as they do not want any distractions. Now, the Cubs are a team who shouldn’t be distracted by such a case of Stewart’s. If the Cubs intended to retain Stewart for the 2013 season, one would ration that the team’s manager would be informed on the progress of his rehab. Considering that Stewart is not with the team and Sveum is not informed on the progress of his rehab, it would seem that Stewart likely will be playing else where in 2013.