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Chris Stewart

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Christopher David Stewart

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Catcher Chris Stewart was signed by the Chicago White Sox and scouts Mark Salas and Joe Butler as a 12th round pick in the 2001 amateur draft and made his pro debut with the Bristol Sox the following year. He spent 2003 with the Winston-Salem Warthogs and split the next season between the Birmingham Barons and the Charlotte Knights. He returned to Birmingham in 2005, hitting .286 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs and making the circuit's All-Star team. He spent most of 2006 at Charlotte, where he hit .265 in 89 games. That September, he was called up by the Sox and went 0 for 1 in his first big league game on September 6th. Overall, he appeared in 6 games for the White Sox and went hitless in 8 at-bats.

Stewart ended up as the New York Yankees' starting catcher by default in 2013. The Yankees had acquired him from the San Francisco Giants in return for reliever George Kontos before the 2012 season, and he had done a creditable job as Russell Martin's back-up that year, hitting .241 in 55 games. Martin left as a free agent after the season, signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Yankees failed to replace him with an experienced major leaguer. They thought that Francisco Cervelli could take over, but he broke a hand in April then was handed a 50-game suspension for PED use, and the job was basically up for grabs. Stewart beat out young Austin Romine and ended up playing 109 games, including 98 starts behind the plate. He did a good job handling a makeshift pitching staff, as the Yankees ended up with a record over .500 and tied for third place in the AL East in spite of a roster in flux all season and a myriad of injuries. He did not contribute much with the bat, hitting .211/.293/.272, but that was not what the Yankees were looking for anyway. After the season, they finally signed a real starting catcher in veteran All-Star Brian McCann, and with Cervelli and Romine still around to handle back-up duties, they shipped Stewart to Pittsburgh on December 2nd, where he would have a chance to back-up Martin once again. The Pirates immediately released Mike McKenry when they acquired Stewart, confirming that the job was his to lose.

Stewart hit a snag when he joined the Pirates, needing surgery on his right knee during spring training, and thus missing the start of the 2014 season. He was activated on April 20th, sending Tony Sanchez, who had played well in his absence, to AAA.

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