MESA, Ariz. -- A's great Dave Stewart accompanied the club's young pitchers on the field during Wednesday's first official spring workout. A familiar intensity remains, his mere presence often speaking louder than his gentle voice.It's an attribute that could serve his students well.Stewart, owner of an extensive baseball resume that
MESA, Ariz. -- A's great Dave Stewart accompanied the club's young pitchers on the field during Wednesday's first official spring workout. A familiar intensity remains, his mere presence often speaking louder than his gentle voice.
It's an attribute that could serve his students well.
Stewart, owner of an extensive baseball resume that includes a laundry list of accolades, was brought in by manager Bob Melvin to serve as a special instructor for the first five days of camp. It will be a crucial period for a starting staff that's operating without a veteran starter, many of its members still in the developing stage of their careers.
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Often lacking during this phase is confidence, which several pitchers, including Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton, alluded to at times last year. Stewart, meanwhile, mastered the art of pitching with it.
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"He was about winning, he was about being there for his team," Melvin said, "and those are some things we want him to get across to our guys. ... It's a group thing, it's not an individual thing, and if you're going to have success, it has to be a team environment. And he's as good a team player as I've seen on the other side."
Stewart spent eight seasons of his storied 16-year career with the A's, taking home World Series MVP honors to cap their 1989 season. The Oakland native also donned the green and gold when he threw a no-hitter on June 29, 1990. He pitched for five teams in all, later latching on as a pitching coach for the Padres, Blue Jays and Brewers. His post-playing career also includes stints as a player agent and, more recently, as general manager of the D-backs.
Now, he's found his way back on the field, albeit for a brief stint.
"It feels right," Stewart said. "I've gotten to wear this uniform for a long time. I'm really excited about having an opportunity to work with the pitchers, and whatever I can do and give them or talk about that may help them out, I'm really looking forward to it."
Stewart will be mostly hands off, instead hoping to be seen as a sounding board and mentor.
"I'm not the kind of guy that just spills information for the sake of spilling it," he said. "It's just really listening to the player and watching the player and helping where you can help.
"All of these guys are young. There are really no veteran guys, so for a guy like me, having the opportunity and the chance to sit down with guys that are thirsty for knowledge is the best situation."
Stewart is already acquainted with many of the A's pitchers from his work as an analyst for the A's pre- and postgame broadcasts on NBC Sports California last season, a role he'll take on again this year. He watched right-hander Kendall Graveman closely and believes the 27-year-old starter is capable of kickstarting a trend that has made so many past A's teams successful.
"He has an opportunity to be at the top of the staff and really make an impression on the other guys," Stewart said. "That's what was good about our rotations. We had myself, Mike Moore, Bobby Welch, Curt Young, and the baton kept passing, and guys were inspired by the guy that pitched the day before."
Graveman, always a sponge soaking up knowledge at every turn, is up for the task, aware of the added responsibility he's carrying into the season.
"Like [Melvin] said in our meeting today, he's one of the greatest competitors to ever play the game, and I look up to him for that," Graveman said. "He had that go-get-it mentality on the mound. I want to learn more about that, his mentality and how he went about his business. Of course, pitching we can always learn, and we can learn from a lot of people, but not many people possess that characteristic that he does."
"I wanted to be the best," Stewart said. "You can walk through this lifetime, the way I look at it, and you can have absolutely no impact on anything around you. I call that a vanilla. Or you can be a person that walks through this life and everything you touch you have some impact and leave an impression."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.