DJ Stewart back with Orioles, hopes to put injury-marred season behind him - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

DJ Stewart back with Orioles, hopes to put injury-marred season behind him

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon


BOSTON—Ten days after suffering a concussion when a fly ball he was trying to catch in left field hit him in the head, DJ Stewart is back. On August 6, Stewart came in a shallow fly ball hit by the Yankees’ Mike Ford, stumbled as he tried to change direction and lost sight of the ball. It struck him near the temple.

“He kind of hit the ball off the end of the bat,” Stewart said. “I knew I had to book it to get over there. Kind of ran in first and then realized I need to go over a little bit, but I think my body and momentum was already down to the ground. I looked up and realized … I’d see if I could catch the ball, but I knew I wasn’t going to be make the catch and just tried to protect myself, but wasn’t able to and it hit me on the right in the side of the head.”

Initially, Stewart was cleared to remain in the game, but was pinch-hit for when his turn came up in the bottom of the fourth.

“As that inning continued, I felt more pressure in my head,” Stewart said. “ Didn’t really know some things that I should have known. But didn’t really feel anything bad as soon as the play happened. I felt like I was ready to go.

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“I think the training staff did a great job of assessing me out there, but once I got in the dugout they assessed me again. You never know with concussions. You can get the symptoms right away, they could not come and then come later on, so you never know. They did a great job of handling that situation, but as the inning went on I felt a little bit more pressure and it was the right decision for me to come out.”

Stewart’s attempt to catch Ford’s ball was widely shown on highlights, and he didn’t like the impression it left.

“I watched it one time,” Stewart said. “Everyone seems to tag me in it. I’m not a good baseball player. I can’t catch a ball, but I’ve seen it once. It was just a baseball play, and, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the play. I’m looking to redeem myself and show that I can actually play defense for the guys who think I can’t.”

Stewart hoped that 2019 would be the year when he’d get a full opportunity to play for the Orioles. He played just seven games before suffering a sprained right ankle on June 5 when he and Hanser Alberto collided in pursuit of a foul ball.

After a lengthy rehab, Stewart was playing in his first major league game since then when he suffered the concussion.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Stewart of his return. ”Hopefully be able to stay on the field a little bit longer. It’s obviously been something kind of new for me. I’ve never been hurt in my career and for this stuff to kind of come back-to-back, it’s been tough for me … but glad to be back and hopefully stay out there and stay safe and contribute to the team.”

Manager Brandon Hyde is looking forward to getting time to evaluate Stewart.

“He’s had a tough couple of months, physically, and just some bad breaks when it comes to the injury standpoint,” Hyde said. “We’re hoping he can stay healthy the rest of the year and he’s going to get a lot of opportunities to play.”

Stewart will start in right field on Friday against the Red Sox, and Trey Mancini will move to left, in front of Boston’s Green Monster. It’s Mancini’s first start in left since April 18.

“I’m always eager to play,” Stewart said. “It doesn’t matter where I play. I played right field here last year … [Adam Jones] went to left, and I went to right. It’s a big area out there, but for me, it’s a big opportunity to show that I can go both ways and make plays for our team.”

Stewart said this wasn’t his first concussion. He had them playing football before concentrating on baseball in college.

“Most important is not to push it faster than you should be because, your brain, you only get one of them,” Stewart said. “There’s no transplant or anything like that. There’s life after baseball as well. I want to have kids, and I want to teach them, and I’ve had concussions before playing football.

“… Obviously if you’ve had multiple, you want to err on the side of caution with that, so just not to push it. Even though I want to get back here as soon as I can, just not to push it and be cautious with it.”

To make room for Stewart on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned right-handed pitcher Chandler Shepherd to Triple-A Norfolk. Shepherd allowed one run in four innings on Tuesday night in his major league debut.

Four-man bench: For the moment, Hyde has a four-man bench. It will be difficult for Hyde to keep it for long if the pitchers continue to struggle, but on September 1, rosters can be expanded to 40 players.

“Hopefully, we can stick with this number,” Hyde said. “We just haven’t had the opportunity to this year, just the way our pitching is. The starters haven’t given us a ton of length, bullpen guys being taxed a little bit. We’ve always had to carry that extra pitcher. I’d love to go into September with this number, but we’ll see.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. OriolesNumber1Fan

    August 16, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    Excellent article. I hope Stewart stays healthy for his audition for his place in the rebuild. Speaking of great articles and rebuild, excellent article by Steve Melewski – https://www.masnsports.com/steve-melewski/2019/08/is-rebuilding-bad-for-baseball.html – in his response to Jon Heyman’s article regarding “Rebuild” or “Tanking”. I say Steve really took it to Jon – AWESOME!!! Tank all you want Orioles while we still can. We will be back in 3 years and winning it all after “Tanking” or Rebuild” is complete!!!

    • Hallbe62

      August 16, 2019 at 9:08 pm

      Thanks for sharing the article.

      I see both sides. The need to tear it all down and start from scratch, become as frugal as possible, and hope the 3-4 years of drafting high, along with an inspired or lucky string of great scouting results using Sig analytics, coupled with improved and results oriented player development does the trick and produces a Playoff caliber baseball team that can remain so for years forward.

      And the other side which only ask that the team not become the laughing stock of America while completing the above process.

    • CalsPals

      August 17, 2019 at 7:51 am

      Unfortunately I think it’s too late for that…go O’s…

  2. BobbyBoston

    August 16, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    I’ve been an O’s fan for over 49 years! Here is my opinions: All the Starters with the exception of John Means should be Gone! If I were in charge, I would release Chris Davis and eat that big contract. Please get rid of Jace Peterson, Smith, Sisco, DJ Stewart & every single Reliever,. Keep Villar, Mancini, Santander, Alberto, Ruiz, Serevino. Give Richie Martin one more year—at least he is trying to change his swing and batting stance—unlike Chris Davis! Call up, Hayes, Diaz, Mountcastle, Harvey, Tate, and every single pitching prospect you have—give them some damn experience—what the Hell do you have to lose—can’t lose anymore than you are now!!!

  3. BobbyBoston

    August 16, 2019 at 10:51 pm

    Sorry, I forgot Nunez—he is our future. Back to the Stewart Lovers—he got hit in his head with a fly ball! That’s Little League Stuff! Did you see him tonight against Boston on the fly ball to right—Clueless!

    • Bhoffman1

      August 16, 2019 at 11:16 pm

      Your right , Mason Williams should have gotten the call up but like Rich said they don’t have much invested in him like they do DJ even though he can hit and field and of late he’s tearing it up at Norfolk. Your right about pitching prospects.I rather see baby birds like we had back in the sixties pitching then cast offs that we gave now. Elias has a lot of nerve pitching these nothings night after night.

    • ClayDal

      August 16, 2019 at 11:49 pm

      A lot ( most) of the players on the current 25 man roster are just placeholders until the prospects are ready to come up. If Hays could have stayed healthy, he would be up here by now. When they figure out what position Mountcastle plays he will be up here. Can’t be any worse of on OF than Stewart. Diaz will be at AAA next year and if he can stay healthy could be a September 2020 call up. Unfortunately most of the pitchers in the minors are at least 2 years away. At AAA we have seen most of their pitchers as they have rode the shuttle. They won’t rush the AA (Wells, Lowther, Bauman) and the A (Hall, Rodriguez) till they are ready. Baby Birds in the 60’s were great, but they didn’t have to worry about arbitration and free agency. Suspect the off-season will be more AAAA pitchers and pitchers coming off injuries who will come cheap. Think by 2021, things should brighten up.

    • CalsPals

      August 17, 2019 at 7:53 am

      Stewart looks like the kid in the field that doesn’t want the ball hit to him…trying to take the high road…he’s really bad…go O’s…

  4. Ekim

    August 17, 2019 at 12:03 am

    Here we go again… Stewart with another 0 fer… This guy is a waste of time! It’s taken him 5 years to get to the bigs and the only reason he’s here is because he was a first rounder. I mean… look at his record through the minors. In another few games his average will be less than .100.

    …. and like Bobby above said, take all their little league pitchers and DFA them as well. It’s so predictable… bring any reliever (if that’s what you want to call them????) in with runners on base and you know what’s going to happen. The best ERA of the four clowns that attempted to pitch tonight was 4.87…. Castro… and if he never pitches I won’t miss him one bit. I want to close my eyes and not see another O’s game until 2021. Go Tides, Baysox, Keys, Shorebirds and Ironbirds! Just saying…

  5. BobbyBoston

    August 17, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    I understand the new regime, but every pitching prospect in the Orioles system has to be thinking that they could do better than the guys on the O’s Roster. Give these guys a taste of putting on a Major League uniform and playing for a big league club! This will help build the future—even if it is just for one game. I am worried these kids will be in the Minors for way too long and never get a chance! Anyone remember Mike Yaz? He just hit 3 Home Runs in one game for the Giants a couple days ago! But we have DJ Stewart, so I guess all is good?

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