While on the disabled list with a quadriceps injury Ian Stewart had been playing at Triple-A as part of a minor-league rehab assignment. He hit just .091 in 13 games, so when Stewart was deemed healthy the Cubs activated him from the DL and optioned him to Triple-A.
And then he decided to leave the team for a few days.
Technically when a player is optioned to the minors he has the collectively bargained right to report any time within 72 hours, and players often take that full amount of time to do so. However, in this case Stewart was already playing for the team to which he was optioned, so the 72-hour rule is sort of a loophole.
Here’s what general manager Jed Hoyer told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago about the situation:
We had a lot of discussions with him about it, in the end that was the decision. He has the right, it’s the given right the players have and that was the decision.
Rogers described Hoyer as speaking “cryptically” and it’s not very difficult to read between the lines there. And as Rogers notes, Stewart ruffled some feathers last season when he chose to go home instead of rehabbing a wrist injury with the team (although not enough to stop the Cubs from signing him to a $2 million deal).
All things considered taking a weekend off from work isn’t exactly an earth-shattering controversy, but the way Stewart’s career has deteriorated in recent years it’s definitely curious.
We welcomed “Mason Saunders” into our lives on Sunday, thanks to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan. Mason Saunders is the alias of Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner when he competes in rodeos, something he’s done as recently as December (when he was still a free agent).
Given that one of Bumgarner’s other extracurricular activities, riding dirt bikes, resulted in a serious injury, many have been wondering how the Diamondbacks would react to the news that the lefty they inked to a five-year contract two months ago is roping steers in his spare time. It seems like the Diamondbacks just accept that that’s who Bumgarner is.
On Tuesday, Baggarly and Buchanan answered some frequently asked questions about the whole Bumgarner-rodeo thing. They mentioned that former Giants manager Bruce Bochy, in a radio interview on KNBR, slipped in that Bumgarner also hunts bears in his off-time. Bochy said, “You think, ‘Madison, you’re looking at signing your biggest contract ever to set yourself up for life and you’re going to risk it on the rodeo?’ But he’s got confidence. I mean there’s some stories I do know that he probably wouldn’t want me to share, with him bear hunting, and the tight situations he’s gotten himself into.”
As Baggarly and Buchanan explained, when Bumgarner — I mean, Saunders — is roping steers, he’s not taking much of a risk. They wrote, “The header and heeler don’t chase the steer around the ring. Each trial is more or less a one-shot deal and it’s over in less than 10 seconds. If the header or heeler misses on the first attempt, then no time is recorded.” Bumgarner has also said he ropes with his non-pitching hand. Hunting bears is an entirely different level of risk, one would imagine. That being said, no one seemed to be surprised that Bumgarner moonlights as a serious rodeo competitor. That’s likely also the case that he, as Bochy puts it, goes “mano a mano” against bears.