Pirates notebook: Chris Stewart's rehabilitation could get major push


CINCINNATI -- As catcher Chris Stewart continues his rehabilitation in the minors, the Pirates are discussing the possibility of having him finish the rehabilitation process with the major league team, manager Clint Hurdle said Monday.

Stewart, who had arthroscopic surgery March 19 to repair the meniscus in his right knee, caught seven innings Saturday with Class AAA Indianapolis. He then caught nine innings Sunday in A 10-9 loss, a game in which took 3 hours, 51 minutes.

"I spoke with Chris [Sunday] evening," Hurdle said. "He's doing fine. He's making progress."

Hurdle, bench coach Jeff Banister and athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk discussed the final steps of Stewart's rehabilitation, and Hurdle said they planned to present their plan to general manager Neal Huntington before moving forward.

"He's in a good place," Hurdle said. "He said he felt good [Monday] and after catching seven innings and nine innings, that's a good sign."

Stewart went 2 for 8 with a double and a walk in his two games with Indianapolis. He went 2 for 7 with a walk in three rehabilitation appearances with Class A Bradenton.

When Stewart is ready to return, he will take the place of Tony Sanchez on the active roster. The Pirates traded for Stewart, 32, this winter to have a defensive-minded backup catcher who works well with the pitching staff and allow Sanchez, 25, another year in the minors to polish his game.

Polanco honored

Right fielder Gregory Polanco, the Pirates' No. 1 prospect, was named the International League hitter of the week.

Polanco, 22, went 14 for 28 with a double, two triples and a home run with Indianapolis from April 7-13. Entering Monday, he was hitting .465 for the season.

"Obviously he's off to a good solid start," Hurdle said.

Hurdle speaks with Indians manager Dean Treanor once a week to receive updates on the team and said he occasionally talks to Indianapolis hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo.

"It's an early start," Hurdle said. "He's hitting the ball hard where it's pitched, playing both sides of the ball. Baserunning's been good. The initial first, not even two weeks has been a good solid effort. But again, it's a volume of games that you keep in perspective."

The Pirates believe Polanco can contribute in the major leagues at some point this season. The front office wanted him to see more off-speed pitches in hitter's counts.

Heredia to DL

Minor league right-hander Luis Heredia, the Pirates' No. 10 prospect according to Baseball America, went on the minor league disabled list because of right shoulder pain.

Heredia, 19, left his most recent start with Class A West Virginia after one pitch.

Close games

The Pirates and Cincinnati Reds each have played seven one-run games this season, the most in the majors. The Pirates entered a game Monday at Great American Ball Park 5-2 in one-run games, the Reds 2-5.

"You do have two clubs that can pitch, hit and play defense," Hurdle said. "More often than not, those games are low-scoring affairs, there's not a lot of separation. It's kind of funny because this would be one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in the National League."

The Pirates went 29-23 in one-run games in 2013.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.

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