The Cubs have placed INF Ian Stewart on the 15-day disabled list, and activated C Welington Castillo from the 15-day disabled list
I doubt anyone expected Stewart to come to Chicago, find his batting stroke, and be a breakout star at age 27. Of course, he’s at the point in his career where we would typically expect players to have their best years at the plate, and I don’t think it was unreasonable to hope that he’d be an acceptable stopgap at third base in the wake of Aramis Ramirez’s departure. Even relative to the modest expectations for him, though, he’s been a disappointment, as his 71 OPS+ ranks him 80th out of 85 official qualifiers for the batting title in the National League. He’s probably had some bad luck – his .242 BAbip is awfully low – but there’s no disguising that he’s been a big part of the team’s offensive problems. It’s possible that his wrist, which is the reason that he’s headed to the DL, never fully recovered from the surgery he had on it last year, although the team has not addressed this directly as far as I know.
The Cubs have yet to officially announce a corresponding roster move, but Luis Valbuena is expected to be brought up. Nonetheless, I’d expect Joe Mather to get the majority of the playing time at third base until Stewart returns. Mather’s had an OK start to the season, but I’m very skeptical about his ability to handle third base defensively; for all of Stewart’s struggles at the plate, he’s looked solid in the field. Nonetheless, he’ll probably be an upgrade offensively over what Stewart’s provided so far.
Meanwhile, Castillo’s spent most of the last week with AA Tennessee, where he played in five games and hit two homers in 11 AB. With Geovany Soto headed for a rehab assignment, the Cubs’ catching situation will be back to normal. In fact, I doubt we’ll see Castillo play more than maybe a game or two, just to give Steve Clevenger a break, before being sent back down to AA in order to play every day when Soto returns.