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Tigers prospect Stewart getting camp looks

MLB.com @beckjason

TAMPA, Fla. -- Christin Stewart was a surprise omission from the Tigers' big league camp list when non-roster invites were announced in January. His early work is making him a familiar face nonetheless.

Wednesday marked Stewart's second appearance with the big club in four days, as the Tigers brought the slugging left fielder with them as an extra player for their Grapefruit League matchup against the Yankees. He drew a walk off Dellin Betances, stole second base and scored in the sixth inning, singled and scored in the eighth inning, then hit a sacrifice fly for an insurance run in the ninth.

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Christin Stewart was a surprise omission from the Tigers' big league camp list when non-roster invites were announced in January. His early work is making him a familiar face nonetheless.

Wednesday marked Stewart's second appearance with the big club in four days, as the Tigers brought the slugging left fielder with them as an extra player for their Grapefruit League matchup against the Yankees. He drew a walk off Dellin Betances, stole second base and scored in the sixth inning, singled and scored in the eighth inning, then hit a sacrifice fly for an insurance run in the ninth.

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Until Minor League games begin in a couple weeks, Stewart is getting his chance to make an impression on Tigers officials as he enters a big year in his development.

"Basically you just come over and try to play to the best of your ability every time you come over," Stewart said Wednesday morning. "Just have fun, that's the big thing. Not try to do too much."

Stewart also was part of Sunday's 8-8 split-squad tie against the Pirates, delivering a single and scoring a run at Joker Marchant Stadium.

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"Some of our staff that have been here before, [hitting coach] Lloyd [McClendon] and those guys, were hoping we could get him into camp -- I mean, actually have him as an invited player to camp," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But the organization has a little different feeling about that. They want to make sure he gets all of his work down there and let him continue to just do his thing rather than sit up here. It was nice to see him over here, because I heard really good things from our staff and the reports on him. He's got some ability; you can see that. He's a strong young man."

MLB Pipeline ranked Stewart 10th on its list of top 30 Tigers prospects during its preseason update last week. The former first-round pick hit 29 doubles and 28 home runs at Double-A Erie last year, posting a .501 slugging percentage while batting .256 with a .335 on-base percentage. Stewart said he focused his offseason on continuing his training program from last offseason, tweaking his diet a bit to balance his intake while taking in more frequent, smaller meals.

"I just went out and got after it every day in the weight room, and in the kitchen, also," Stewart said. "That plays a big part. It was just fine-tuning a few things here and there to peak my performance. I always had a pretty decent diet, but the past couple years is when I really started diving into it more."

That focus shows in Stewart's frame, a football-like muscular build that belies the 6-foot, 205-pound dimensions.

Unlike fellow SeaWolves outfielder Mike Gerber, Stewart doesn't need to be protected on the 40-man roster yet. The Tigers are looking for Stewart to continue his development, at the plate as well as in left field, before he knocks on the door for a role in Detroit.

Injury updates

Lefty reliever Blaine Hardy, out until at least Friday with inflammation in his left shoulder, said an MRI exam showed no structural damage.

Hardy said he had a similar exam two years ago during similar issues after he set career highs with 70 games pitched and 61 1/3 innings in relief in 2015. The two MRIs showed no major differences.

Hardy received a cortisone injection to try to quiet the inflammation. He'll be sidelined for the next couple days while that takes effect.

"It just wouldn't go away," Hardy said of the inflammation. "We've been hammering out a shoulder program, strengthening everything. We took a few days off to see if that would help. It just kind of stayed there."

Jeimer Candelario returned to the Tigers' lineup Wednesday, two days after he bruised his left knee in a collision with Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman behind home plate during Detroit's 8-6 win.

Video: DET@BAL: Gausman leaves game after collision

Up next: The Tigers return to Joker Marchant Stadium on Thursday for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against a split-squad Braves team. Listen on Gameday Audio as Ryan Carpenter gets his second start of the spring in his push for a spot on Detroit's pitching staff.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

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