DENVER – Ian Stewart tossed a couple of bats into a bag, muttered a few goodbyes and then bolted from the clubhouse.
Another trip to Triple-A Colorado Springs awaited. Another chance to iron out a swing that's suddenly turned erratic.
The Colorado Rockies third baseman wants nothing more than to hit the reset button on what's been a ghastly start to the season.
His confidence shaken, Stewart has fallen into quite a funk at the plate, hitting a paltry .064.
In an effort to snap him out of his skid, the Rockies once again sent Stewart to the Sky Sox as they made room for infielder Ty Wigginton, who came off the disabled list Friday and was in the starting lineup against the San Diego Padres after healing from a strained oblique.
The trouble is, Stewart has minor league pitching mastered. He hit .361 with three homers and 13 RBIs in an 11-game stint earlier this spring.
But he just can't get his groove to carry over to the big league level. Stewart was 1 for 21 with seven strikeouts since he rejoined the team May 3.
This from a slugger who had 25 homers — to go with a .228 batting average — in 2009. He followed that up with 18 homers in 2010.
Big things were being forecast for him in 2011 as he made the squad despite knee and hamstring ailments that hampered him throughout spring training.
His bat, though, has betrayed him.
"Next time I come up, I think I just need to enjoy the game," the 26-year-old Stewart said. "This was hard for me, seeing the average up there on the scoreboard every day and feeling pressure to get a hit every time I was up.
"Maybe I need to get mentally tougher. I'm going to go down there and just try to enjoy the game like I did when I was there before. Try to have fun again and then hopefully when I come back up it will translate."
The Rockies have struggled to find any sort of production at third base this season, with Wigginton (.233) and Jose Lopez (.155) also scuffling.
"I didn't anticipate this," manager Jim Tracy said. "Just have to deal with that as best as I can, to try to get something out of that position offensively.
"That is a premium offensive position that we're not getting a whole lot out of."
Wigginton was showing signs of coming out of his slump before he was injured. The veteran was 3 for 4 with a homer and double on April 26 at Wrigley Field. He strained his oblique in that game while stealing a base, landing him on the disabled list for the first time in two seasons.
After two successful rehab starts at Colorado Springs, Wigginton was back with the team and should receive a bulk of the work at third.
"We have to be mindful from day to day of how does he feel," Tracy said. "We're looking for a hot hand. We're looking for somebody to perform offensively."
Stewart hopes that might even eventually include him as well. The left-handed hitter said he's felt good in the batter's box, even if he hardly has anything to show for it.
He's attempting to remain upbeat, hoping he can make a quick return to the majors. Center fielder Dexter Fowler was sent down to the minors last May and responded well when he returned.
"It's definitely something that you can look at, think you can be in the same kind of category — go down there, have success, come back and have success," Stewart said. "I'm just going to try to go down there and have fun. See what happens."