Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stewart's Injury Causes Quandary Could Force Change to Sanchez's Status

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stewart's Injury Causes Quandary Could Force Change to Sanchez's Status

Article excerpt

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Catcher Chris Stewart will seek a second opinion on a knee injury that will likely require surgery, the Pirates announced Monday, creating uncertainty regarding the team's plans for the backup catcher spot.

Stewart will visit James Andrews, one of the leading sports orthopedists, this week to receive an evaluation on his right knee, which he hurt during a game March 12 against the Minnesota Twins. The Pirates called surgery "probable" in a news release.

The injury could mean a spot on the opening-day roster for Tony Sanchez, but the team also could choose to get a catcher from outside the organization.

Manager Clint Hurdle said he was not aware of a particular play during the game that caused Stewart's injury.

"We asked him if he wanted to stretch out one more at-bat, his turn was coming up," Hurdle said. "He said, 'No, I think I'm good. I'm just a little tight.' "

Stewart went 0 for 2 with a flyout and lineout in the March 12 game. He also caught a runner stealing and fielded a grounder in front of home plate. He was replaced by a pinch-hitter after five innings, which is not unusual during spring training.

The Pirates acquired Stewart, 32, from the New York Yankees in December with the idea that Stewart could back up Russell Martin so that Sanchez could play every day at Class AAA Indianapolis. That scenario would pave the way for Sanchez to take over for Martin, who is a free agent after the 2014 season, as the starter in '15.

Stewart detracts from the lineup on offense, posting a .584 on- base plus slugging percentage from 2011-13, but is an experienced catcher and strong defensive player. Sanchez, 25, who debuted last season and had 66 plate appearances in 22 games, is a better hitter, but the Pirates want him to continue to improve behind the plate.

If Sanchez made the active roster, the Pirates' catching depth would further decrease. …

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