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Unexplained injury frustrates Stewart

CHICAGO – The unknown is almost more difficult than the physical pain Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart deals with every day.

Stewart has battled a sore left wrist for almost a year – the same wrist that ended his season with the Colorado Rockies last August – undergoing several tests that were inconclusive. Despite trying to battle through the pain, Stewart landed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday. The Cubs purchased the contract of Triple-A Iowa infielder Luis Valbuena, who started at third base in the series finale against the Tigers.

Stewart, acquired in an offseason trade, is hitting .201 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 55 games. He admitted to frustration at a lack of diagnosis, especially because he can feel something in the wrist causing the soreness.

“I don’t know if at times it would have been better earlier to [go on the DL], but it’s hard for a player to take himself out of the lineup,” Stewart said. “ … I was just trying to battle through that and just got to the point where if I wasn’t going to be able to go out there and really produce and help out the team, then there was no sense in really being out there if it was hurt and not getting any better.”

Stewart will head to the Cleveland Clinic this weekend and get a second opinion by Monday on his bum wrist. Doctors have discussed potential nerve damage because Stewart experiences a tingling sensation on the left side of his left pinky. It prompted offseason nerve testing to no avail, and the sensation still persists.

Stewart did not rule out surgery to fix the unidentified problem.

“Because with all the MRI and X-ray results, nothing of major value came up in there that they say we need to get this done now, or this would have been taken care of long ago,” Stewart said. “But there have been instances where things didn’t show up on those and they can go in and look and see if there’s other things.”

Castillo activated: The Cubs regained one of their hobbled catchers when Welington Castillo was activated from the DL before Thursday’s game.

Castillo had been sidelined since May 22 with a sprained right knee. In a corresponding move, catcher Koyie Hill was designated for assignment. In 11 games with the Cubs, Hill hit .179 with a double.

“He always handles the pitchers well,” manager Dale Sveum said. “It’s too bad. Hopefully we keep him in the organization for depth. But on the other hand, he’s such an ultimate professional you’d like to see him get claimed on waivers too and go straight to the big leagues.”

Quick hits: Since May 15, Alfonso Soriano’s 12 homers are the most in baseball, ahead of Toronto’s Jose Bautista (11) and Minnesota’s Trevor Plouffe (10). … The Cubs have been involved in 23 one-run games posting a 7-16 record.

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