Rockies send Ian Stewart back down to make room for Ty Wigginton

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Six at-bats later, he’s gone.

Ian Stewart was demoted back to Triple-A Colorado Springs for the second time this year Friday, opening up a spot for the returning Ty Wigginton.

Manager Jim Tracy said after last Sunday’s game that Stewart was “either going to play his way in or play his way off the team.”

Stewart, though, was given just six more at-bats afterwards.  Granted, he was 0-for-6 in that span, leaving him with a ridiculous .064 average in 47 at-bats.  Still, if the idea was to challenge Stewart, maybe he deserved more than two games, with all of his at-bats coming in front of the pitcher, to respond?

One wonders if Stewart has now made his last out for the Rockies.  While he put up solid overall numbers in his first 2 1/2 seasons (he hit .246/.334/.458 with 53 homers and 172 RBI in 1,077 at-bats from 2008-10), he failed to meet the team’s high expectations offensively or defensively.

Given that Tracy has always favored high-average hitters and that’s simply not Stewart’s game, a trade might be in everyone’s best interests.  The Rockies might be selling low, but given the number of third basemen hurt throughout the NL, there should be some team out there willing to give up a legitimate prospect for him.  Stewart is just 26, he hits lefties better than most left-handed hitters and he’s not a Coors Field creation (his 751 road OPS is just 20 points lower than his home mark).

The Rockies, meanwhile, will go it with Wigginton and Jose Lopez.  Ideally, Lopez would stop floundering one of these weeks, because he’s the vastly superior defender.  However, he’s barely above Stewart territory with a .155/.174/.238 line in 84 at-bats.  For that reason, Wigginton figures to get a chance to secure the job if he comes back strong after 16 days with a strained oblique.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.