Thursday, May 29, 2008

Circumstances Open Door for Rockies Ian Stewart

With the injury decimated Rockies having lost 12 of their last 17 games -- six of the last eight -- at least a door has been opened to test long-awaited former top draft pick Ian Stewart.

At 24 Stewart remains a work in progress, as he was batting a healthy but less than spectacular .281 with 12 homers at Triple A Colorado Springs. But with a number of regulars out, manager Clint Hurdle has called up Stewart to see just exactly what he can do at second base, as Stewart's natural position at third base is filled by Garrett Atkins.

Look for Hurdle to keep working Stewart -- an athletic, 6-foot-3, 200-pound left-handed batter -- into the lineup while waiting for middle infielders Jeff Baker, Clint Barmes and Troy Tulowitzki to return from disabled status, not to mention Atkins, who has recently missed time with a sore neck.

While Stewart has been shown to be overmatched in limited major league playing time, it is intriguing to consider the 2002 10th overall pick's .304 batting average, 15 home runs, 23 doubles, and 65 RBI in 112 games at Colorado Springs last season, including a .321 clip over his final 37 games. Stewart has also stolen more than 40 bases since turning professional.

In addition to Baker, Barmes and Tulowitzki, outfielders Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe; and pitchers Micah Bowie, Jason Hirsh, Ryan Speier, Luiz Vizcaino and Kip Wells are also out of action.