Stewart Slugs His Way to Award

In the first month of the season, Caleb Stewart hit a quiet .256 with little power. As the temperatures have warmed, so has he. With a .370 average in May, he has helped the B-Mets turn around a disappointing April. Inside Pitch discussed the recent success as the B-Mets returned home after their longest road trip in over a decade.

The Binghamton Mets went 8-3 on their last road trip, sweeping four games from Portland, splitting another four with Connecticut and taking two of three from New Hampshire. The span from May 10 to May 20 was the B-Mets' longest scheduled stretch away from NYSEG Stadium this season, and they outscored opponents 77-54.

Caleb Stewart, the 24-year-old outfielder in his fourth season with the Mets organization, turned some heads by starting an 11-game hitting streak (which is up to 13 entering Thursday), and driving in 14 runs to earn the Eastern League Player of the Week award.

"It's like a baby, it starts walking, then running, and you can see all the steps coming after it," said B-Mets hitting coach Nelson Silverio of Stewart's growth. Silverio worked with Stewart in St. Lucie last season and in extended spring training in 2005.

"When you stay with a guy, three years working with the same guys, seeing that progress with him—it feels good, I mean these guys are like my kids."

Before the trip Stewart was batting .236 with two home runs, slumping. He came back to Binghamton batting .313 with five home runs, holding the hottest bat other than Cory Coles', who was called up from St. Lucie on May 9 and had hit in 21 of 22 games between there and Binghamton.

May has been slump-busting month for the B-Mets who set season highs for runs five times this month. After some searching, Stewart found his own stroke.

"Trusting what you know, trusting what you've done in the past to get you back on track, and I just kept working with Nelly [Silverio] and getting in the cage and eventually it came around," Stewart said.

"If you would sit on that one pitch or that pitch around that area, you wouldn't fall in as many slumps," he continued. "I'm overanxious up there a lot, I see the ball so well at times I just swing at everything. When you get locked in, or you're feeling better, you tend to lay off a lot of the garbage they're throwing you."

Last fall, Stewart played winter ball in Nicaragua with other Mets prospects, such as Shawn Bowman and current teammates Wilson Batista and Ambiorix Concepcion. The journey was Stewart's first outside of the United States, which he described as "pretty crazy."

"The people, all they care about is winning—that's the way it should be. If you aren't doing well, you're going to definitely know about it. You might not know what they're telling you, but you're going to know you're not doing well," Stewart said.

Stewart returned home early around Christmas due to an oblique strain, an injury that had kept him out for a span of wees in 2006 and one that he takes preventative measures against in 2007 before every game.

But despite the success of the road trip, the B-Mets are 19-23 entering Thursday—three games out of last, nine out of first. Similar production from Stewart is what they need.

"That was good for the team to get him back in the lineup and start playing well," said B-Mets outfielder Miguel Negron. "We have a lot of lefty hitters, he's a righty power-hitter to give us some good hits and RBI too, that's a real important thing for our team."

Stewart's been hot, he has the hardware to prove it. But it's just baby steps.

"I worked with Nelly last year and he knows me and I know him," Stewart said. "It's nice having him around just ‘cause, you know, he's been with me for a couple years. He's seen me at my best, he's seen me at my worst."