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updated: 12/9/2011 4:23 PM

Newest Cub excited for opportunity

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  • Ian Stewart is looking forward to playing third base for the Chicago Cubs.

      Ian Stewart is looking forward to playing third base for the Chicago Cubs.
    Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos

 
 

The old "change of scenery" cliché in baseball goes something like this: If a guy has a bad year someplace, then going someplace else might be a wonder cure.

Even a new-schooler such as Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer cited "change of scenery" Thursday night when the Cubs traded for third baseman Ian Stewart.

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Mostly, that change-of-scenery stuff is wishful thinking. And mostly, it's bunk.

Give credit, then, to Stewart for not buying into it even after having about as poor a season as you could have last year with the Colorado Rockies.

"I was never really was a big change-of-scenery type guy," Stewart said Friday during an introductory conference call. "I always felt like I fit in great with the Rockies when I was there. It just didn't seem like all the time I was always given the best opportunity to play.

"This gives me that opportunity to come in and be that everyday third baseman and get those 500-600 at-bats that I need to be ultimately successful. Change of scenery? I don't know. I think being in a spot where I'm going to be able to play every day is going to be the best thing for me."

Stewart has a big role to fill after the departure from the Cubs of Aramis Ramirez through free agency.

In the trade, the Cubs obtained Stewart and minor-league reliever Casey Weathers for infielder DJ LeMahieu and outfielder Tyler Colvin.

This past season, Stewart had a hitting line of .156/.243/.221 with no home runs. He hit 18 home runs in 2010 and 25 in 2009. Stewart played in 48 big-league games this year but also spent 45 games at Class AAA Colorado Springs, hitting 14 home runs there.

Knee and hamstring injuries suffered in spring training got him off to a poor start, and left-wrist inflammation ended his season in August.

"There was a lot of adversity that went on with me," he said. "It started in spring training, getting hurt with my knee and missing a lot of time there. Right when I came back and started getting healthy, I had another setback right at the end of spring training with my hamstring.

"I'm not a guy that's always been hampered by injuries throughout my career … Missing so much time in spring training probably set me back for the whole year. I probably should have stayed in spring training. But in another sense, I was ready because I was hitting so well. It might have been better served for me to spend more time down there."

As far as replacing Ramirez, Stewart said that kind of situation is not new for him.

"It's funny because I did something similar in Colorado because Garrett Atkins was the third baseman before me and he had so many great years there for them," he said. "When I was being brought up to the big leagues a few years back (first baseman) Todd Helton was going through some injuries. I stepped in for Atkins when he moved over to first.

"When Todd got healthy, things went along and they gave me the job there. So I've replaced some guys that have had good careers. It's not something that I'm going to be thinking about. I realize what (Ramirez) did for the organization there, and I'm sure the fans appreciate it. I just hope that I come in and get the same support he got."

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