Stewart hoping to return 'in couple weeks'

Reserve catcher at Pirates complex two days after knee surgery

Stewart hoping to return 'in couple weeks'

TAMPA, Fla. -- There is one reason Michael McKenry's Pirates career ended last July 27, and Chris Stewart's Pirates career could begin as early as this April:

McKenry knew he'd messed up his left knee with three innings to go on July 27 in Miami, but insisted on catching out the rest of the game because "the team needed me and I needed to stay in there."

Three more innings of squatting left him with a badly torn meniscus in his left knee that required season-ending surgery a few days later.

Catching in the Bucs' March 12 exhibition against the Twins, Stewart "felt a couple of pops" in his right knee so "I shut it down and got some ice."

"I figured it was not worth staying in just for another at-bat," said Stewart, citing the common convention of having starting players exit Grapefruit Leagues games after three at-bats.

As a result, the tear of the meniscus in Stewart's right knee turned out to be relatively "minor" and the veteran catcher was back in the team's McKechnie Field headquarters Friday -- two days post-surgery.

The reserve catcher was anything but reserved about his optimistic timetable.

"I feel great. The surgery went as well as it could've," said Stewart, who moved around on crutches but appeared to be already putting some weight on the scarred right knee. "Now it's a matter of getting the swelling down, getting the range of motion back -- then it's up to me.

"The prognosis is anywhere from two to six weeks, and I'm hoping to be back in a couple of weeks. I'll try to go full bore once I get my feet on the ground."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.