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Pirates notebook: Catcher Stewart activated; Sanchez demoted

| Saturday, April 19, 2014, 6:15 p.m.

The Pirates activated catcher Chris Stewart from the disabled list Saturday and sent Tony Sanchez to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Stewart had arthroscopic surgery March 19 to repair the meniscus in his right knee. The team acquired him in December from the New York Yankees to back up Russell Martin, but the knee bothered him in spring training.

“It's nice to get out there on the field and know that I'm healthy,” Stewart said before Saturday's game with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 32-year-old caught four rehab games in Indianapolis, with consecutive nine-inning outings Wednesday and Thursday. That convinced him the knee was ready.

“(It's important) being able to trust it, not thinking in the back of my head: Is it going to hurt? Is it going to damage it more?” said Stewart, who batted .400 at Indianapolis (6 of 15). “Once I got out there and I started doing some things instinctually, I kind of got over the hump. I feel confident.”

Sanchez hit .333 in 18 at-bats, but the 25-year-old also had two throwing errors last Sunday. A first-round pick in 2009, Sanchez needs more consistent playing time, manager Clint Hurdle said.

“There's a bat there that needs to get reps,” Hurdle said. “There's a throwing arm and a defensive skill set that needs reps as well.”

Stewart has played 255 games over six seasons since his major league debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2006. He's a career .214 hitter.

Mercer's ankle ‘better'

Jordy Mercer's right ankle was feeling “a little bit better,” Hurdle said Saturday, but the team remained cautious with the shortstop. Clint Barmes started Saturday in his place.

Mercer left Friday's game after the cleats of Brewers baserunner Martin Maldonado slid into his ankle. Mercer described the injury as a bruise.

“We're going to play it safe,” Hurdle said.

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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