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.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.