Within 24 hours of my post about turning our eyes to 2015 here in 2013 regarding the third base position, an early wrench has been thrown into the plans for the hot corner for 2013. Ian Stewart was added to the list of players to suffer minor injuries, tweaking a quad while running the bases after a base hit in Friday’s intrasquad game.
Stewart was in good enough spirits to joke about the injury, noting that it had been a while since he had run the bases. But what won’t have Cubs fans laughing is if the former Rockie ends up missing any length of time as he did last season. Stewart is scheduled for a MRI for precautionary measures, as was the case for Matt Garza the other day. The left handed Stewart is not expected to start the Cactus League slate with his teammates to rest up the tweak.
Manager Dale Sveum has said earlier in camp that the third base job was Stewart’s to win, not lose. That should motivate Luis Valbuena to have a solid Spring, with the goal to make the call for Sveum a tough one come Opening Day. The 5 foot 10 inch Valbuena, who was plucked up from waivers last April, spent the off season playing winter ball. You have to like the dedication in doing what he can to prepare himself to compete for at bats and game time in 2013. Valbuena started the competitive portion of camp with a literal bang, hitting a two run homer in the intrasquad game.
With Stewart’s setback, the opening for Valbuena’s path to the starting third base job just got a bit wider. It would be nice to say the same for seemingly eternal prospect Josh Vitters, but the 23 year old Vitters also is day to day due to injury. White Sox reject Brent Lillibridge is in camp as well and also has some experience at third, having played 18 games there last season.
The setbacks to Stewart and Vitters are certainly not cause for doom and gloom this early in camp, but at the very least it will allow for the opportunity for a wide open race for the third base job. Stay tune Cubs fans, because Spring Training games are on their way!