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.

Report: Steven Matz has been pitching through pain, may need elbow surgery

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Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.

According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.

Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.

Clayton Kershaw’s simulated game went so well he threw an extra inning

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Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.

Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.