Stewart: Cubs will be great opportunity

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
4:50
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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After a trade that brought him to the Chicago Cubs, third baseman Ian Stewart is not buying into the notion that a change of scenery was all he needed to rebound from a failed 2011 season.

[+] EnlargeIan Stewart
Kirby Lee/US PRESSWIREThe Cubs acquired Ian Stewart from Colorado to be their answer at third base.
"I was never really a big change-of-scenery guy," said Stewart, who was acquired from the Colorado Rockies along with Casey Weathers for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu on Thursday night. "I always fit in with the Rockies while I was there. But it didn't seem all the time that I was given my best opportunity to play. Now that Aramis Ramirez is gone and one of the guys that was going to replace him went in the trade to Colorado, this gives me a great opportunity to come in and get those 500-600 at-bats to be successful."

Stewart will need all the help he can get to improve and return to the type of player he was in 2009 and 2010 when he hit a combined 43 home runs. Stewart played in 48 games in 2011, hitting .156 with no homers and six RBIs. Injuries plagued Stewart during spring training last year and while he was fighting off the effects of a knee injury he strained a hamstring right before the regular season.

"There was a lot of adversity that went on with me last year," Stewart said. "I'm not a guy who has always been hampered by injuries in my career. Lingering injury issues have never been my problem. And for whatever reason this year it was. I'm not trying to make excuses for the poor season I had but injuries do play a part in a guy's season and how the season turns out."

Stewart went to the minor leagues after starting the season with an .077 batting average. He was recalled by the Rockies but injured his wrist in July.

"At the major league level I had been struggling with the wrist injury," Stewart said. "In my opinion, the [problem] was bringing me up and back between the major and minor leagues and never getting settled. I know it's not the same as the major leagues, but I had success down at Triple-A. The issue wasn't the wrist because after I hurt it in July it just became a lost season."

Stewart was impressed by his initial conversation with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

"It's great. It does wonders for a guy's confidence," Stewart said. "'Theo Epstein,' just the name is one in sports that everyone can recognize because of the success he brought to the Red Sox organization in a short amount of time. To hear his voice was very refreshing for me, and him having the confidence in me definitely gives me confidence."

Stewart will talk to hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo this week and may get together with him before spring training begins Feb. 18.

There will be a familiar face in the clubhouse to greet him. Cubs utilityman Jeff Baker, a teammate of Stewart's in Colorado, sent him a text on Thursday welcoming him to the team and telling Stewart he will love Chicago and the Cubs.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
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WINS ERA SO IP
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OTHER LEADERS
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HRA. Rizzo 32
RBIA. Rizzo 78
RA. Rizzo 89
OPSA. Rizzo .913
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 167