CHICAGO – Criticism in 140-character bursts apparently isn't enough to get you released from the Chicago Cubs.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Thursday that Ian Stewart will not be released even after his 10-game suspension is completed. The suspension was handed out because Stewart violated the loyalty clause in his contract.
It all stemmed from Stewart's June 10 Twitter outburst when he said, among other things, that the Cubs were, "going to let me Rott (sic) in AAA all season and then non tender me after." The social-media platform Twitter allows comments up to 140 characters at a time.
It was still a length long enough to allow Stewart to put his foot in his mouth, although Epstein has been forgiving in this instance.
"He hasn't lived up to our expectations but he is a human being and his career is at stake," Epstein said on ESPN 1000's "Waddle and Silvy" show. "I think he made a mistake and he apologized for it and he deserves a second chance if he comes back with the right attitude to perform and hopefully restore his career."
Epstein also divulged that the suspension is under appeal, adding "but we haven't formally heard about that."
In actuality, Epstein may not be doing Stewart a favor by keeping him. Stewart would rather be released, as his agent said at the time of the Twitter controversy, and land with another major league team than being stuck in the minors.
Stewart, 28, batted .201 with a .335 slugging percentage in 55 games with the Cubs last season. His season was cut short because of a pre-existing wrist injury that eventually required surgery. The Cubs still re-signed him for $2 million this season, but a quadriceps injury hampered him during spring training.
He was sent to injury rehab at Triple-Iowa and the Cubs kept him there when his rehab was completed.
Stewart is known for his sometimes prolific use of Twitter, especially late at night after games. This time it wasn't so much about how much he said but what he said.
"I am in no way vindictive or bitter about what happened," Epstein said. "He simply made a mistake and we had to address it. It was our responsibility to and we did and hopefully after the discipline is enforced things will be rectified and he'll move forward. Hopefully he will get his career back on track."