Stewart's rant brings swift action from Epstein
Matt Garza left, reacts as Cincinnati Reds' Xavier Paul rounds the bases after his 3-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Chicago. Garza allowed 9 runs in 5-plus innings.
Cubs President Theo Epstein has better things to do. One would be seeing what the trade market is for Tuesday night's starting pitcher, Matt Garza.
So that's why Epstein said the latest typically Cubs teapot tempest "didn't take up a lot of my day."
Epstein acted quickly to suspend minor league (and former major-league) third baseman Ian Stewart before the Cubs' 12-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.
Stewart, who has been languishing at Class AAA Iowa since being lopped off the 40-man roster last month, went on a strange Twitter rant overnight Monday into Tuesday.
Among other things, he said manager Dale Sveum doesn't like him, that it's more fun in Triple-A and that why should he quit when he's making $2 million a year.
Stewart later used his favorite form of social media to apologize, but the damage was done. His agent sent out a note to the Chicago media reiterating the apology and saying that if Stewart doesn't fit into the team's plans, "I feel that it is in the best interests of both parties for the Cubs to release him and end this relationship."
Epstein indicated that may well be in the works, if the two sides can work out a settlement. The Cubs did not tender Stewart a contract last December, but they did re-sign him.
The Stewart experience has been a debacle from the beginning for the Cubs, who sent young players Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu to the Rockies for Stewart in December 2011. Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer were hoping they were getting a left-handed power bat on the rebound from injury.
However, Stewart missed most of last year after having wrist surgery in June. A quad injury derailed spring training this year, and Stewart disappointed the Cubs after taking three days to report to Iowa when he was optioned after his rehab assignment was done.
The Twitter chirping was the last straw.
"There was a personal attack on the manager, which can't really be tolerated," said Epstein, who repeatedly praised the offensive output and defensive work of platooning third basemen Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom, who made 3 errors Tuesday.
Sveum was clearly miffed, especially about allegedly "not liking" Stewart.
"I was all on board in bringing him back and giving him another chance, give him a chance to prove what he could do at the big-league level and with the Cubs," he said. "Obviously, it didn't work out. It's unfortunate people have to vent their frustrations through social media. It's just unfortunate.
"It's unfortunate that somebody could be that unprofessional to tweet something like that about an organization. It reflects on everybody here, the players and the whole organization."
As for Garza, he helped neither his trade value nor the Cubs. He lasted only 5-plus innings giving up 9 hits and 9 earned runs. Garza allowed 3 home runs, including Xavier Paul's 3-run blast in the Reds' 6-run sixth.
"It was impressive the way they did it," said Garza, who is 1-1 with a 6.26 ERA. "Just the way it fell tonight."
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