Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Toronto's Stewart Nears Finish Line

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Toronto's Stewart Nears Finish Line

Article excerpt

They're dropping like flies.

Last year, baseball waved goodbye to Carlton Fisk, Dale Murphy, Nolan Ryan, George Brett and, during the offseason, Robin Yount.

This season, Jeff Reardon and Ryne Sandberg split for the golf course.

Kent Hrbek has all but officially announced that this will be his last season.

And now Dave Stewart says he's taking his famous glare home when the season ends. Stewart suggested last fall that he would retire after this season but left the door open for a return.

But now, he says, "I've closed the door. . . . All that's left is to adjust my season and help get things turned around, and hopefully we'll be able to get in as a wild-card team and end on a good note."

One of the most dependable and competitive starters of the past decade, Stewart is 5-8 with a 6.20 earned-run average this season and is averaging less than six innings per start. Age - and Toronto's poor season - is taking its toll.

"It seems like it's been one thing after another," Stewart said. "I still take the mound with the same spark and feel the same challenge, but physically it just takes too much to get the body ready for each game. You don't want to get old, but that's the reality.

"I look at Dave Winfield and Charlie Hough, guys who are still going into their 40s, and I have a different respect now for them. I'm just 37 and I'm going to fall short of what those guys did by years."

In his prime, though, Stewart fell short to few pitchers . . . other than at the Cy Young ballot, that is.

After the Phillies released him in 1986, Stewart joined the Athletics, perfected his forkball and became one of the best pitchers in the game. He won at least 20 games an almost unheard of four seasons in a row from 1987-90, becoming one of the true leaders of the great Oakland clubs of that period.

Despite being overlooked for the Cy Young Award, Stewart made his mark in the postseason as the Mr. …

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