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The Cubs have reinstated 3B Ian Stewart from the 15-day DL and have optioned him to AAA Iowa. (Stewart came into the 2013 season with one minor league option year left).

Stewart suffered a strained quad in an intrasquad game at HoHoKam Park in February, and missed the entire 2013 MLB Cactus League Spring Training schedule. He was placed on the Cubs MLB 15-day Disabled List on March 31st (retro to 3/22), and was left behind at Extended Spring Training when the Cubs left Arizona at the end of March.

Stewart hit 200/250/267 in 16 PA at Extended Spring Training, and then was moved up to AAA Iowa on a minor league "rehab" assignment on April 14th, where he has hit an ice-cold 091/255/114 in 58 PA. 

Since the maximum number of days a position player can spend on a minor league rehab assignment is 20 (it's a maximum of 30 days for pitchers), May 3rd is the end of the assignment (time that was spent at Extended Spring Training prior to going to Iowa is not considered part of the minor league rehab assignment). However, a club does not have to reinstate a player to an active roster after the conclusion of a minor league rehab assignment if the player is not healthy enough to play (like if the original injury or illness reappears and/or was aggravated or if a different injury occurred during the course of the rehab assignment).   

Because Stewart made his debut on an MLB 25-man roster more than three years ago, Optional Assignment Waivers had to be secured before he could be optioned to the minors. Optional Assignment Waivers are revocable (meaning the request can be withdrawn if the player is claimed), and once secured they are good for the entire waiver period. So Stewart can be sent back & forth to the minors without any restrictions (that is, he can be recalled and then be optioned to the minors again anytime during the current waiver period without Optional Assignment Waivers needing to be requested & secured each time). The current waiver period just started this past Tuesday, and it doesn't end until 4 PM (EDT) on July 31st.

BTW, although Optional Assignment Waivers had to be secured before Stewart could be optioned to the minors, Stewart did NOT have to give his consent to the assignment. Only players who have accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time must give their consent before they can be optioned to the minors, and Stewart (if he had remained on the 15-day DL or if he had been reinstated to the 25-man roster instead of being optioned) would not have reached five years of MLB Service Time until July 31st. (And now that he's been optioned to the minors, Stewart reaching five years of MLB Service Time will be even further delayed).

John Polonius blasted a two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the 4th to break a 4-4 tie and propel the Giants to a 6-4 victory on Field #1, and Jonathan Jones belted a two-run walk-off double off the LF fence on a 3-0 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 5th as the Giants edged the Cubs 4-3 on Field #2 (thus sweeping the doubleheader), in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ. 

Kevin Encarnacion doubled, tripled, and scored a run and Jacob Rogers hammered a solo home run on Field #1, and Reggie Golden slugged a tape-measure two-run HR on Field #2, to provide most of the Cubs offensive highlights.

John Leonard belted an RBI triple, singled twice, and scored a run, and Carter Bell drilled a two-run double, as one squad of Diamondbacks defeated one squad of Cubs 5-2 on Field #3, while on Field #4, 16-year old Sergio Alcantara doubled, tripled, and scored a run and Michael Brenly singled, doubled, and scored two runs for the Diamondbacks, and Neftali Rosario singled, walked, scored a run, and knocked-in another for the Cubs, as the two squads played to a 4-4 tie, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader action this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.

Brad Zapenas (2012 shoulder surgery rehab) doubled, tripled, drove-in three runs, and scored two more, Jeffrey Baez ripped a two-run double, singled, walked twice, and scored a run, and Rashad Crawford hammered a bases-loaded three-run triple, leading one squad of Cubs to a 13-7 victory over one squad of Giants on Field #3 (formerly known as Field #2), and Rony Rodriguez belted a bases-loaded three-run double, singled, and scored a run, and Justin Marra laced a two-run double, walked, and scored twice, as the other squad of Cubs defeated the other squad of Giants 7-4 on Field #4 (formerly known as Field #3), in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played Tuesday morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.  

Albert Almora laced an opposite-field RBI triple into the RF corner and then scored one out later on a sacrifice fly, Josh Vitters roped an RBI double, and Jose Rosario threw four innings of one-hit ball, helping the Cubs edge the Athletics 4-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 (formerly known as "Field #3") in Mesa, AZ. 

Almora (the Cubs 2012 1st round draft pick) saw his first game action in more than six weeks, since having hand surgery on March 16th (he broke his hamate bone at Minor League Camp on March 14th). He was a DH and hit five times in today's game, once in each of the first five innings. He lined out to CF in his first AB, then bounced out to third, reached base on an E-5 (another bouncer that the A's third-baseman tried to cut-off in front of the shortstop), ripped his RBI triple (and then he tore his pants and got a pretty good "raspberry" on his left thigh sliding home on the sac fly), and (in his last AB) grounded out to short. 

Josh Conway got the start for the Cubs and went five strong innings (80 pitches), allowing two runs on four hits (all four singles) and two walks, while striking out six (five swinging). He retired nine of the first ten men he faced and then four of the last five, but in between he gave up two runs on four hits in the top of the 4th. The way he is being stretched out makes it look like the Cubs might be thinking about moving him up to Kane County or Daytona in the near future.

Jose Rosario followed Conway to the mound and threw four innings of one-hit ball (although he did walk three). He surrendered a lead-off triple in the top of the 9th, but looked like he would get out of the inning and leave the runner stranded at 3rd after retiring the next two hitters. However, a two-out fielding error by 1st baseman Mark Malave allowed the runner at 3rd to score. Rosario looks like he might be about ready to move up to either Kane County or Daytona, too.


Eric Aybar (on an injury rehab assignment) singled and walked and scored two runs, Quentin Davis punched-out three RBI singles, and Jonathan Walsh belted a solo HR, as the Angels rallied to defeat the Cubs 7-4 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Diablo Park Field #7 in Tempe, AZ.

Dillon Maples got the start for the Cubs and allowed one run on two hits and two walks in three innings of work (50 pitches). He also struck out five and threw a wild pitch. His hammer-curve was virtually unhittable (as it usually is), and he was able to command his fastball somewhat better today than in previous outings.  

Josh Vitters continued his EXST rehab assignment, playing 3B for seven innings and batting five times. He flied out twice, grounded out, and reached base on an Eric Aybar error and on an HBP, and he also made an outstanding double-saving backhanded diving catch on the 3rd base line. He certainly looks like he's ready to return to Iowa.

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

Josh Vitters singled twice and ripped an RBI double, Carlos Penalver doubled twice, scored a run, and knocked-in another, Trey Lang tossed three innings of no-run no-hit ball, and catcher Lance Rymel threw out five baseruners (four caught stealing and one picked-off), as the Cubs edged the Rockies 5-4 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Vitters was placed on the AAA Iowa Cubs DL with a back strain earlier this month, and before that he missed most of MLB Spring Training with a quad strain. He is presently on a rehab assignment with the EXST Cubs, and he played 1st base for five innings today and batted four times (once each in the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings). All three of his hits were rockets, and even the F-7 out was a near HR. (He also played 3rd base in yesterday's intrasquad game -- see below).   

Cubs 2012 1st round draft pick Albert Almora (broken hamate bone during Minor League Camp) has started taking pre-game BP with the other position players, so I would think he will probably be seeing some EXST game action very soon, and then perhaps get moved-up to Kane County sometime next month.

Here is the box score from today's game (Cubs players only):  

Jaron Shepherd and Correlle Prime smacked solo home runs to highlight a three-run 1st inning, 2012 1st round pick David Dahl blasted a two-run HR to key a three-run 4th, Jared Simon singled, tripled, walked twice, and scored two runs, and Jeff Popick singled twice, doubled, and drove-in a run, leading the Rockies to an 8-2 victory over the Cubs in Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 (formerly known as "Field #3") in Mesa, AZ.


Garrett Schlecht drilled a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the 2nd inning and Trevor Gretzky crushed a 420+ ft solo HR over the right-centerfield fence with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to account for the two Cub runs.


The defensive play of the day was a run-saving diving catch of a sinking line-drive by Rashad Crawford in short CF.


Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):


Josh Conway, Erick Leal, and Carlos Martinez combined to throw a three-hitter, retiring the last ten men a row, and David Bote drilled an RBI single to tie the game and Jacob Rogers followed one out later with a sacrifice fly to give the Cubs the lead, as one squad of Cubs rallied for two runs in the 5th and held on to edge one squad of Diamondbacks 2-1 on Whirlwind Field, and Carter Bell blasted a three-run home run to cap a five-run 3rd and Josh Parr singled and tripled and scored two runs, leading the other squad of D'backs to a 7-1 victory over the other squad of Cubs on Jackrabbit Field, as the two squads split a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.   


Former Cubs minor leaguer Michael Brenly (released during Minor League Camp) was the catcher for the Diamondbacks squad on Whirlwind Field, and he went 0-3 (K, F-7, K).


Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):


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