Ian Stewart has been out since mid-February with a quadriceps injury and now the Cubs third baseman has been ruled out for Opening Day.
This offseason the Cubs non-tendered the arbitration eligible Stewart and then re-signed him to a one-year, $2 million deal. Similar to what the Tigers did with Brennan Boesch last week, they could release Stewart and save all but $500,000 of that money, but Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune expects the Cubs to stick with him.
Stewart hit just .201 with five homers and a .627 OPS in 55 games for the Cubs last year, missing most of the season with a wrist injury that required surgery, and was even worse for the Rockies in 2011. Luis Valbuena is slated to be the Cubs’ starting third baseman.
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.