DUNEDIN, Fla. — Shannon Stewart is more than glad to be back with the Toronto Blue Jays.
"This is where it all started for me," he said Monday, his 34th birthday. "My best memories playing in the big leagues have been with Toronto."
The Blue Jays picked Stewart in the first round of the 1992 draft. He debuted in the majors three years later and was traded to Minnesota in 2003, in the midst of his fifth straight .300-plus season.
Stewart went to Oakland last year and hit .290 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs. He thought he might be returning to the Athletics this year.
"It seemed like that was where I was going to head back. Then I guess that fell through," he said. "Seattle was mentioned, Kansas City at the end, but there was no real offers that were on the table."
Stewart said he is healthy and ready to compete for a spot in the outfield.
"My body feels good now. It felt pretty good last year. I did have same aches and pains but you go through that in a 162-game season," he said.
"I'm just coming in here to help the ballclub out. I'm sure it will be maybe a platoon role and if it means playing every now and then, whatever. I'm just happy to be a part of this organization."
The Blue Jays already have Reed Johnson in left field.
"They are two good hitters and we just want what's best for the team," manager John Gibbons said.
Notes: 1B Lyle Overbay missed his second day of camp Monday with stomach flu. "He'll play in the intrasquad game on Tuesday if he is here," Gibbons said.
Former Phillies coach Denis Menke was at Toronto's first intrasquad game Monday to see 3B Scott Rolen. "Toronto is going to be real happy with Rolen," said Menke who played 13 seasons in the majors with the Braves, Astros and Reds.
"He's the best third baseman I have seen."
Gibbons liked what he saw of closer B.J. Ryan's (left elbow) bullpen outing.
"He had a good session and he is getting stronger each time. He will see the doctor in the next couple of days, then tentatively he will face live hitters for the first time on Thursday."