Orioles outfielder DJ Stewart said one thing he cannot do the rest of this season is try to make up for lost time. He’s had two stints on the injured list with a right ankle injury and concussion since he made his O’s debut this year on May 28.
That first call-up followed his torrid May for Triple-A Norfolk. He hit .457/.518/.886 in 20 games. But about a week later with the Orioles he was injured and didn’t get another big league at-bat for about two months.
Now he’s trying to recapture his hitting form from early this year. And there are signs that he’s making some strides in that regard. Over his past four games he’s 6-for-15 (.400) with two doubles and two RBIs. Overall this year, in 14 games and 50 plate appearances, he’s batting .208.
“I had to know I couldn’t rush everything. It’s not going to come back overnight and you can’t get frustrated with it,” Stewart said this afternoon in the Baltimore clubhouse. “But our hitting coaches have done a great job with me. Been working with Don Long and Howie Clark every day. Just kind of simplifying things and going back to like, honestly, like Little League stuff. Playing pepper and stuff, trying to relax my hands. Make my hands free to the ball, not be so strong to the ball and just having fun.
“I think they saw some things with my swing and me just being a little too aggressive and strong with it. Trying to free my hands up more and go back to some basics. See how that goes.”
Stewart is trying not to overthink or overanalyze what he’s doing at bat.
“When you’re going well it can seem a lot simpler,” he said. “Probably because you are not really thinking about a lot of things. That is kind of what they wanted to me to do. Get me out there not thinking and just playing.”
Just playing, not trying to make up for lost time and get three hits at once. He knows that approach won’t have a chance.
“No. Not really,” Stewart said. “I kind of did that last year when I got hurt with my hamstring. I tried making up for lost time because I was going well before I got hurt. I wanted to get back to that as soon as possible, to get up here, and I learned the hard way not to do that. That didn’t work for me.”
With players like Stewart and Hunter Harvey here now, O’s fans can begin to envision a day when more homegrown products make their way onto the roster. Like Stewart’s 2019 Triple-A teammates at Norfolk, Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays.
“To be with those guys when they eventually get here will be really fun because we’ve played together at various levels,” Stewart said. “They are all capable of playing here. Just a matter of time for them, and when our organization feels it’s right for them. That will be a fun process.”