Orioles outfielder DJ Stewart returns from concussion: ‘Your brain, you only get one of ’em’

Baltimore Orioles shortstop Richie Martin (1) looks on as left fielder DJ Stewart gets hit by the ball while chasing a fly ball hit by York Yankees' Mike Ford during the fourth inning of a baseball game , Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Baltimore Orioles shortstop Richie Martin (1) looks on as left fielder DJ Stewart gets hit by the ball while chasing a fly ball hit by York Yankees' Mike Ford during the fourth inning of a baseball game , Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

The Twitter notifications kept coming, but DJ Stewart only once brought himself to watch the video those tweets featured: him, sliding facedown on Oriole Park’s left field grass, his gloved left hand up more in defense than an effort to make a catch as a fly ball collided with the side of his head.

The impact was enough to give Stewart, 25, a concussion and cost him 10 days on the injured list before returning as the Orioles’ right fielder in Friday’s series opener with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Right-hander Chandler Shepherd was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to create roster space.


Stewart was able to crack a smile about the play in retrospect, with his ego seemingly taking more long-term damage than anything.

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

The concussion came in Stewart’s first game back in the majors after suffering a sprained ankle in a collision with second baseman Hanser Alberto while playing right field June 5. Stewart came out of the game immediately then, but after last week’s incident, he remained in the game to finish the half inning, during which he progressively “felt more pressure in my head.” He was pinch-hit for in the bottom half of the frame.

Stewart said he’s thankful this injury didn’t cost him two months like the previous one, but his focus throughout the recovery process, which included a two-game rehab stint with Triple-A Norfolk, was to not rush himself back.

“Your brain, you only get one of ’em, honestly,” Stewart said. “There’s no transplant or anything like that. There’s life after baseball, as well. Obviously, I want to have kids and stuff, be able to teach them. I’ve had concussions before, playing football, so it’s not my first time having it. Obviously, if you’ve had multiple, you want to err on the side of caution with that.”

Stewart, the Orioles’ first-round pick in 2015, entered Friday’s game hitting .160/.192/.160 in the majors. Manager Brandon Hyde said he hopes to see Stewart stay healthy the final month and a half of the year and produce as he has with Norfolk, where he hit .291/.396/.548 with 12 home runs.

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

O’s, Cashner reunite

When the Orioles traded right-hander Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox for two 17-year-old prospects last month, he had arguably been baseball’s best starter since the beginning of June, with a 1.41 ERA in his final five starts for Baltimore.

But he was unable to match that success in Boston, posting an 8.01 ERA in his first six starts after the trade. The Red Sox recently pulled him from their rotation, and since, he’s had two scoreless relief appearances, earning a save in the first while showing an uptick in velocity.

“He was outstanding for us,” Hyde said. “We were all hoping he was going to come here and do well. When we were in Anaheim, we watched his start against the Yankees here, and he threw the ball great. Just hasn’t happened for him for whatever reason, but I saw him throw out of the ’pen real well the last couple times. His velo, throwing 98 [mph] and throwing the ball well. Cash was wonderful for all of us here, and wish him the best — after this series.”

Around the horn

Right-hander Dean Kremer, one of five players the Orioles acquired when they traded Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer, was promoted from Double-A Bowie to make his Triple-A debut Friday. In his final 10 starts with the Baysox, Kremer went 8-0 with a 1.93 ERA. … Six Aberdeen IronBirds, the Orioles’ Short-A affiliate, made the New York-Penn League All-Star Game: outfielders Kyle Stowers and Dalton Hoiles, infielders Toby Welk and Andrew Fregia, and right-handed pitchers Ryan Conroy and Leonardo Rodriguez. … Right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis, designated for assignment Wednesday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. … After Asher Wojciechowski starts Saturday, either Ty Blach or Gabriel Ynoa will start Sunday, Hyde said.


Saturday, 7:10 p.m.

TV: MASN Radio: 105.7 FM


Orioles starter: Asher Wojciechowski (2-5, 4.84 ERA)

Sox starter: Eduardo Rodriguez (13-5, 4.31 ERA)