The Ian Stewart era is here

Ian Stewart’s time at third base for the Rockies actually arrived last season, but with Garrett Atkins now officially with the Orioles, there is no question that third belongs to Stewart.

The Rockies made Stewart a first-round pick expecting him to be a key part of the lineup. They’ve seen pieces of what Stewart can provide. In 2008, after a slow start, Stewart hit .270 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs in his last 63 games. Last season, Stewart dipped to .228 but hit 25 homers and drove in 78 runs.

Jim Tracy believes there is more.

“We got power out of Ian Stewart, but, especially when he gave me a glimpse of what it could look like if he figures out the word consistency and how to become that, I don’t view this guy as a .220 hitter,” Tracy said.

To truly be a difference-maker, Steart has to hit left-handed pitchers with consistency. In 2009, he hit .178, but five of his 18 hits were home runs. But he hit .370, with four home runs and 17 RBIs, against lefties in 2008.

It could work for all parties. Atkins has a chance for regular duty at the infield corners or as a designated hitter, rather than as a pinch-hitter. Atkins went 4-for-24 as a pinch-hitter. The Rockies are going after players who have played multiple positions or come off the bench before to replace Atkins.

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