Stewart takes surprise break from I-Cubs

CHICAGO -- It’s raising some eyebrows that recently optioned Chicago Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart hasn’t reported to Triple-A Iowa just yet even though he’d been playing there for the last 13 games.

Stewart just finished a rehab assignment with the Iowa Cubs for a left quad injury that has plagued him since early in spring training. The maximum time a player can spend in the minors in that situation is 20 days, making last Friday his final day of rehabbing.

But because he was hitting .091 the Cubs decided to keep him there by officially sending him down after his rehab stint was complete. He didn’t need to clear waivers, so Stewart could have just kept playing for Iowa.

“He will be, but he has his time, his 72 hours,” general manager Jed Hoyer said on Monday.

Players who have been optioned to the minors have 72 hours to report, meaning Stewart had until Monday night. He didn’t play over the weekend, apparently taking his time off. Texts to him and a call to his agent went unreturned.

Why would a player trying to get back to the major leagues take three days off when he’s been “off” since the start of the season? It’s an apparent lack of commitment.

This after the Cubs committed a non-guaranteed contract to him at the end of spring training -- which meant it was his for keeps -- for $2 million.

“We had a lot of discussions with him about it, in the end that was the decision,” Hoyer said cryptically. “He has the right, it’s the given right the players have and that was the decision.”

In a way it’s reminiscent of Stewart’s behavior last season when he failed to rehab an wrist injury with the club, choosing to go home instead. The Cubs were disappointed with that decision and Stewart regretted it in hindsight. And now he’s doing it again, although the Cubs do expect him in uniform on Tuesday when Iowa takes on Colorado Springs.

But where was he over the weekend? His absence is telling.