Stewart will evaluate his season
In 2008, youngster realized he could play in big leagues
PHOENIX -- Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart will spend a good part of the offseason reliving 2008, which has proven to be his biggest opportunity to make an impact in the Major Leagues.
"What's nice about being up here is we get all of our at-bats on tape and stuff," Stewart said. "So I'm going to try to get that, run through some at-bats and figure out where pitchers are pitching me to have success, and see what adjustments I need to make to be more successful.
"I definitely feel like I can be more successful up here, do better."
Stewart, 23, will see a few struggles, but also some highlights. He hit .281 in an early-season callup from Triple-A Colorado Springs. After returning to Colorado Springs with a plan for refining his swing, Stewart returned to the big club in July and has hit .284 since.
It hasn't all been rosy. Stewart entered Friday night's game against the D-backs with a .161 September batting average, after hitting .432 in 12 July games and .295 in 28 August games as the regular at third base.
But Stewart, the Rockies' first pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, has reached a happy conclusion.
"I just think I proved to myself, not saying I proved it to coaches or anything," said Stewart, hitting .270 with 10 home runs and 41 RBIs. "Last year and then earlier this year when I was struggling, I kind of doubted myself a little bit.
"But I was able to go down, get work in and come back up. I realized that I could play at this level. It just took a little fine-tuning and some patience. When I sit back and evaluate the year, there will be stuff I need to work on. Hopefully it'll be done over the offseason and Spring Training, and then we'll see what happens next year."
The Rockies selected Stewart out of high school because of his potential with the bat, and he's uncorked some impressive shots. But Stewart, who spent time at unfamiliar second base during his first promotion, has made several highlight-reel defensive plays.
Colorado manager Clint Hurdle was marveling at four plays Stewart made during Thursday night's 3-1 victory over the Giants. The ability to pull off such plays was not featured on the scouting reports Hurdle had seen.
"The flair for the extraordinary has been something that we've seen a number of times that I'm not so sure that was said in that context," Hurdle said.
Going into next year, Hurdle would like Stewart to increase his concentration on the simple play, and learn to put his good, athletic stride to use as a situational base-stealer.
Stewart also might have to be flexible.
Stewart became the third baseman when Garrett Atkins moved to first when Todd Helton suffered a back injury in July. Helton is expected to return next year. However, early speculation is that the Rockies could attempt to trade Atkins, whose price will rise because of arbitration. Then Stewart could slip into the job.
But if Atkins isn't dealt, Stewart could get time at second, and the club is confident he could play the outfield if necessary. Stewart already has done work at second and in the outfield.
"I don't think like that," Stewart said. "I definitely won't wake up every day and read the newspapers to see if anybody's saying anything. If [there is] something I need to know, I'll hear from [general manager] Dan [O'Dowd] or 'Skip' [Hurdle] or my agent. That's not stuff I worry about.
"I feel I've got a place here. Whatever position that is, whatever role that is, I feel like I'm ready to play at this level."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.