Third baseman Ian Stewart would welcome the Cubs releasing him and it seems he's willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
Banished to Triple-A Iowa while making a guarenteed $2 million this season, Stewart, who is known for his late-night Twitter interactions with fans, tweeted critical comments late Monday night about the organization including manager Dale Sveum.
Because of his comments on Twitter, which Sveum called "unfortunate," the Cubs will suspended Stewart without pay for violating the loyalty clause in his contract which requires a standard of personal conduct that he did not adhere to. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein said he has to prove he can excel at the Triple-A level before they would even consider bringing him back up.
In order to keep what he was still owed on his $2 million contract, Stewart accepted the Cubs' decision when he was designated for assignment May 3 following the completion of his rehab assignment.
"He had the right to elect free agency and he decided not to so he decided to become a minor league player with us," Epstein said of Stewart.
Regarding Sveum, Stewart tweeted: "Funny thing is I completed my rehab assignment and [Sveum] didn't bring back. He liked ransom and Valbuena ....he don't like me for some reason."
Despite an opportunity to join another organization when the Cubs sent him to Triple-A Iowa, Stewart chose to remain with the organization.
"I meant they might as well release since I have no shot of a call up....let me sign elsewhere," Stewart tweeted.
Stewart returned to Twitter this afternoon to apologize for his comments citing frustrations that got the best of him.
"I know that he's pretty active late at night and I know he's frustrated so [his comments] didn't fully surprise me," Epstein said.
Stewart is hitting .168 with five home runs, 20 RBIs and 45 strikeouts in 40 games at Iowa. Sveum was disappointed to hear Stewart claim he didn't like the 28-year-old left-handed hitter, especially after Sveum had been all for the Cubs resigning him during the offseason. Stewart's agent Larry Reynolds issued a statement asking if the Cubs do not expect Stewart to be a part of their future plans, "I feel that it is in the best interests of both parties for the Cubs to release him and end this relationship."
Epstein said there have been conversations with Stewart to release him. However, that would likely involve Stewart giving up the rest of his guarenteed money which he has yet to show a willingness to do. Stewart said on Twitter the Cubs will "probably never" recall him from the minors this season.
After enchanging in a back-and-forth conversation with a Twitter follower, Stewart replied: "I said that because the cubs are done with me ... there [sic] going to let me Rott in AAA all season and then non tender me after."
-- Meghan Montemurro