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Chris Stewart Injury Opens Door for Tony Sanchez as Pittsburgh Pirates’ Backup Catcher

March 17th, 2014 at 5:13 PM
By Allan Smith

'Chris Stewart' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Offseason acquisition Chris Stewart was expected to be the Pittsburgh Pirates' backup catcher. After a less-than-promising injury prognosis, it looks as if former first round pick Tony Sanchez will break camp with the team.

Stewart was injured in the March 12 game against the Minnesota Twins, and has been experiencing symptoms ever since, sitting out per the club doctor's recommendation. He is having his right knee checked by the dreaded Dr. James Andrews later this week, and it has been reported that the Pirates fear he has a torn meniscus that will require surgery.

"I wasn't even really aware of the fact until we asked if he wanted to stretch out for one more at-bat [in the game against Minnesota]," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He said, 'No, I'm good.' [His knee] was a little tight."

Over parts of seven Major League seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants, Stewart has a triple slash line of just .214/.287/.288, but is well regarded for his defensive ability.

In comparison, Sanchez made his Major League debut last season, hitting .233 with two homers and five RBIs in 22 games. Sanchez has hit well this spring, posting a triple slash of .296/.345/.556 line with two homers and six RBIs in 12 games.

Other than Sanchez, the Pirates could go with either Nevin Ashley or Omir Santos as their backup. The two are the only other options currently in Major League camp, and both were invited to Spring Training after signing Minor League contracts.

"Basically, it's the same question that we had before we acquired Chris: What's the best scenario for Tony's development, long range versus short range?" Hurdle said. "If it's a short-range [injury] for Chris, is Tony the guy? If it's longer-range — those are the discussions we'll have based on when we get more information."

Information from Pirates Prospects and Pirates.com

Tags: Baseball, Chris Stewart, MLB, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tony Sanchez

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