Stewart, Valbuena possibly in mix at third base

Stewart, Valbuena possibly in mix at third base

Stewart, Valbuena possibly in mix at third base
DENVER -- Ian Stewart, who underwent surgery on his left wrist in June, was examined on Tuesday, and whether the Cubs re-sign the third baseman for 2013 likely will be determined by doctors' reports.

"Obviously, we'll spend a lot of time getting to the bottom of how it looks going forward before making a decision on his future with us," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday. "It is a year that's hard to evaluate given the wrist.

"It's challenging," Hoyer said of the decision-making process. "He's got a lot of ability, the same ability that we saw when we traded for him. He's got big power, he's left-handed, he's a really good defensive third baseman. There are a lot of pluses there. We need to figure out what part was the wrist and what part wasn't."

Stewart, acquired from the Rockies in a deal for Tyler Colvin, batted .201 in 55 games with the Cubs before he had to be shut down because of the wrist. He is arbitration eligible.

If not Stewart, then who would be the Cubs' Opening Day third baseman? Luis Valbuena has impressed the Cubs with his defense. Josh Vitters is likely headed to Venezuela this winter to play and challenge for a spot next year, too.

"[Valbuena] is a guy, you look up and see .215, and you think it should be at least .260-ish or something," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It doesn't seem like his average should be that bad. He's given us so many quality at-bats late in games and walks. He's done a really good job -- a great job -- except for that one glaring number, .215, for a batting average."

But is Valbuena good enough to be a regular at third?

"I see him on the team," Sveum said. "He's definitely a quality guy, a left-handed quality utility player who can hit the ball out of the ballpark, give you quality at-bats all the time, catch the ball where he's at. If we don't sign somebody, you could definitely see him [at third on Opening Day]. He's done a heck of a job."