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Cubs hope Stewart has a future with organization

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WASHINGTON -- The Cubs may have taken Ian Stewart off the 40-man roster, but they are hoping the third baseman can get back on track and contribute.

Stewart missed all of Spring Training because of a strained left quad suffered in the first intrasquad game on Feb. 21. After his Minor League rehab time ended, Stewart was activated from the disabled list and then optioned to Triple-A Iowa. In 15 games, he was 4-for-46, while Luis Valbuena has done well playing third for the big league team.

"We've been really patient with him," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Saturday. "Early in the rehab, you take numbers with a grain of salt, but I think later on, I think you've got to perform, especially with Valbuena doing what he's doing. We'd be jumping up and down to get that kind of performance out of a third baseman. Valbuena has earned that job."

Stewart now seems to be behind Josh Vitters on the depth chart at third base at Iowa. Hoyer said it would be a "disservice" to not play Vitters, who was the team's No. 1 Draft pick in 2007.

Is there a future for Stewart in the Cubs organization?

"I'm not sure," Hoyer said. "I hope there is. I do think there's a lot of talent there. It's been an unfortunate run with the injuries. He's a left-handed hitter with power who plays good defense. I hope there's a future here, but at this point, it's going to be about performance. We want him to perform."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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