MESA, Ariz. -- The wrist injury that was part of the reason Ian Stewart was limited to zero major-league home runs last season could wind up providing some form of discomfort for the rest of the infielder’s career.
On his first day back in the Chicago Cubs lineup after missing time with a tight quadriceps muscle, Stewart admitted that his left wrist contusion from a year ago can still be felt, with some days better than others.
“It stinks to say, but I’ve kind of got to the point where I have some nagging stuff that’s probably going to linger for a while with my wrist,” Stewart said. “That’s why I always have heat or ice on my wrist. That’s just a thing that’s going to be there.”
Acquired in a December trade along with right-hander Casey Weathers in exchange for outfielder Tyler Colvin and infielder DJ LeMahieu, Stewart was coming off the least productive season of his career.
First, a hamstring issue landed him on the disabled list and got him sent back to the minor leagues. Then came the wrist issue. He had no home runs and seven extra-base hits in 48 major league games. In 45 games at Triple-A he hit 14 home runs with 25 extra-base hits.
Where the wrist pain last season was a constant after first feeling it in a batting practice session in Los Angeles, he now only feels it after making contact.
“I have been happy about spring and working out in the offseason because it’s all after contact, which I can deal better with,” Stewart said. “If it’s before contact, then it’s hindering my swing. It’s something you treat and don’t let it get too sore and try to keep your head on it.”
Stewart doesn’t have a home run this spring, but entered play Tuesday with two doubles and a .333 batting average (5-for-15) in just six games. In batting practice sessions his power clearly doesn’t seem compromised as he drives the ball consistently.
“He says more than anything it might flare up a little bit or he feels it doing off-field stuff, not even baseball stuff,” manager Dale Sveum said. “It’s something you monitor or whatever but it hasn’t affected him this spring training. He just feels it once in a while doing something.”
Stewart downplayed the seriousness of the discomfort.
“It’s not like it’s broke or anything,” he said. “It’s just inflammation and general soreness type stuff. The best chance [to eliminate it] is in the offseason and even then, guys nowadays, we start working out right when the season is over. It’s just one of those things where if I had a whole year off it would probably be better. ”
He won’t get that chance this year.
“The wrist hasn’t affected my play or being in the lineup at all in spring training which I am very happy about,” he said.