The Yankees first signed Chris Stewart in 2008. He caught one big league game that season, then the Yankees made a small trade to get him back the following year. Yesterday, they traded for him a second time, and this time they plan to carry him as their big league backup.
“It’s not like it’s some Podunk team from nowhere trying to get me,” Stewart said. “It’s the New York Yankees. With the prestige and everything that goes on around here, it’s nice to be wanted not just by any team but by the Yankees themselves.”
Why do the Yankees like him enough to keep bringing him back? And why do they think he can be a big league backup with his limited big league experience?
“Chris Stewart is an exceptional defensive player, right out of the Jose Molina mold,” Brian Cashman said. “(Francisco) Cervelli is obviously a better hitter than he is.”
Stewart is here to catch, and he does that very well. When he learned about the trade, he was already in San Francisco with the Giants. He didn’t want to leave his car there, so he made the seven-hour drive to his home in Southern California, where he packed some of the dark blue catching gear he had leftover from stints with the Yankees and Padres, then he caught a red-eye flight to Tampa. He landed at 9 this morning and arrived at today’s workout on the team bus. He also knows most of the guys in the clubhouse.
“It’s going to be a quick learning experience (and) go get ’em tomorrow,” Stewart said. “I’ve got to cram as much information into my head as I can tonight and early tomorrow and be ready if my name gets called tomorrow. I caught a lot of these guys before so I know what they have, and I’ve faced the others a good majority of the time, so I have a good idea. Now it’s just finalizing their game plans and what they’re tring to think out there on the mound. … My baseball goal pretty much is to take care of the pitchers behind the plate — and whatever I can chip in offensively I’m going to take as well — but my goal is to try to get those pitchers through the game with the least amount of runs as possible. To be touted as a defensive catcher is an honor for me.”
Associated Press photo