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Newcomer Stewart anxious to start with PawSox

June 26, 2012

Charlotte Knights runner Dallas MacPherson is out at second base as he is forced by Pawtucket Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias during the top of the first inning of Tuesday night’s game at McCoy Stadium. The Knights scored three times in that inning and never looked back as they defeated the PawSox, 8-0, and helped hike their hosts’ losing streak to nine games. (photo/Ernest A. Brown)

PAWTUCKET — New PawSox acquisition Zach Stewart admitted the last 48 hours have been a whirlwind of emotion.
After discovering he and Chicago White Sox teammate Brent Lillibridge had been traded for Boston third baseman/first baseman Kevin Youkilis on Saturday night, he took care of some family business, and didn’t arrive at his new McCoy Stadium digs.
He didn’t arrive at the park until about 4:30 p.m., met with manager Arnie Beyeler and pitching coach Rich Sauveur, exchanged pleasantries with some teammates and walked out onto the turf for some stretching and long tosses.
“I was in the dugout (with the White Sox Triple-A affiliate Charlotte Knights) in Rochester the other night, and I got a phone call saying I was traded,” Stewart, a 25-year-old righty, said from in front of his new locker on Tuesday afternoon. “They said, ‘Thank you for your time,’ I said the same then waited for a phone call from over here (the Red Sox officials.
“I had heard about a possible trade, (and) I didn’t really think that it was going to be me. It was just a ‘wait-and-see’ kind of thing. But it’s awesome. When you’re traded, you know the club wants you. I’ve been told I’ll probably start (Wednesday night against his former Knights’ teammates), so we’ll see what happens.
“I was excited about it,” he added. “It’s a great organization with a lot of history; it’s an exciting organization that I’m proud to be a part of.”
Stewart was a third-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in the third round of the 2008 Amateur Draft, that after a solid career at Texas Tech University. The native of Holliday, Tex. once was considered a hot prospect, but this is the third time he’s been traded over the past four years.
On July 31, 2009, the Reds moved him to Toronto with two others for Scott Rolen, and – almost exactly two years later – he was traded to the White Sox with Jason Frasor for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen.
In 31 MLB appearances, including 12 starts, he has compiled a 3-8 mark with a 5.92 ERA. He mustered a 1-2 record with a 6.00 ERA in 18 appearances (one start) for the White Sox this season. In act, he had been optioned back to Charlotte on June 19.
He has thrown 30 innings, yielding 41 hits and four walks while whiffing 16.
In his last start with the Chicago, on June 18, he lasted 5 2/3 frames, allowing nine hits, six runs (all earned) and four homers without a walk. He fanned one in that outing.
Stewart claimed he knew little about the Red Sox before the trade, but that he had thrown against the Portland Sea Dogs while with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Double-A Eastern League.
“I was with Toronto before, and I played against Portland,” he said. “I’ve never been (to Fenway Park), but I’ve been to Logan Airport when my wife came to see me.”
He indicated he had never had control issues.
“I don’t walk a lot of guys; I’m a sinker/slider kind of guy,” he continued. “I’m just looking to jump into whatever job in which the organization needs me. I feel I have good speed – 93-95 mph – but I don’t look at velocity too much.
“I think the goal I have right now is to follow the path they want me to travel,” he noted. “If they want me to start, I’ll start. If they want me to relieve, I’ll do that, too, then I’ll just go on from there.
“I will say this: The goal is always to improve in every aspect, that’s it. Like I said, I’m a sinker guy, and I want to get groundballs. I’m anxious to get it all started, but I’m still unpacking.”
Stewart’s salary with the White Sox was $481,500, and his earliest possible arbitration year will be 2015. As a minor-leaguer, he has racked up an 18-14 mark with a 3.07 ERA in 101 career minor-league tilts (57 starts) within the Reds, Blue Jays and White Sox systems.
When his new skipper, Arnie Beyeler, found out about Stewart’s acquisition, he said he researched reports regarding him.
“I saw him pitch when he was with New Hampshire, and he had good stuff,” he offered. “That’s the reason we traded for him. He’s pitched in the big leagues, and that’s not easy to get to, so he definitely has some upside.”
EXTRA BASES: Pawtucket transferred righty Jeremy Kehrt to Portland in order to reinstate shortstop Jose Iglesias from the disabled list. He hadn’t played with the Sox since May 25, and went on the DL with lower back soreness on May 29.
He had played two rehab games with Single-A Lowell (short season) on Friday and Sunday, and went 3-for-8 with a double, walk, stolen bag and a run scored.
Before Tuesday’s contest, Beyeler praised the play of Pedro Ciriaco, who had replaced Iglesias at short during his injury. Ciriaco started at second against the Knights.
“He did an outstanding job filling in,” Beyeler noted. “Defensively, he did a phenomenal job, and he swung the bat really well. It’s not like he was doing something that he had never done before. We’ll work him back in (at short); we’ve got some guys who can bounce around (the infield spots) a little bit.”
To make room for Stewart, the PawSox also placed outfielder Josh Kroeger on the temporarily inactive list. Stewart is expected to draw the start tonight against Charlotte, and will face southpaw Charles Leesman (7-5, 2.16 ERA). On Thursday, also at 7:05 p.m., righty Brandon Duckworth (7-1, 3.68) will take on righthander Simon Castro (0-1, 10.80), while the Sox’ Doug Mathis (5-5, 3.94) will take on an unknown Knight on Friday at 7:05.

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