“That’s the last thing I worry about,” Stewart said Sunday before the Cubs played the San Diego Padres. “I’m just trying to get myself healthy. I know I can help this team out. I have all the confidence in the world with (Cubs president) Theo (Epstein) and those guys that they brought me back here to be part of the team. Whether that’s opening day or not, or I need a little extra time to get ready for the season, so be it. I’m really not losing sleep over that fact.”
Stewart signed a one-year, $2 million non-guaranteed contract in the offseason, which means he can be cut before opening day without the Cubs paying his salary for the entire season. He suffered his quad injury while running the bases in an intra-squad game in mid-February.
“The goal is to be on the team and be there opening day,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to be healthy for as much of the season as I can be.”
Stewart says he’s fine taking batting practice, but felt some “mild tightness” while running at about 80 percent speed on Saturday.
“The last hurdle is getting through the running portion,” Stewart said.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum indicated Stewart won’t go to Las Vegas with the team next weekend for exhibition games, which means it will be at least another eight days before he can perform in front of his manager.
“Now it’s looking through the weekend,” Sveum said. “They’re (Stewart and teammate Josh Vitters) still feeling it. They’re still feeling stiffness when they run at 80 percent. It seems to be getting pushed back every day.”
Luis Valbuena has hit well in Stewart’s absence this spring. He’ll play third base if Stewart isn’t ready. After Stewart got hurt Sveum said the evaluation process for him would be a “cram session” considering he missed all but 55 games last season due to a wrist injury.
“It’s getting more crammy,” Sveum half-joked on Sunday.
Stewart reiterated the notion he’s not worried about his contract and said he’s not “aware of any concerns” from the front office or coaching staff.
“I feel like I’m the third baseman here until they get rid of me,” he said.