Montreal receives two minor leaguers

Updated: January 5, 2004, 8:17 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- The Montreal Expos traded pitcher Scott Stewart to the Cleveland Indians on Monday for a pair of minor leaguers, outfielder Ryan Church and infielder Maicer Izturis.

The trade gives the Indians a dependable left-handed reliever that they have lacked since trading Ricardo Rincon to Oakland in July 2002, general manager Mark Shapiro said.

Stewart, 28, was 3-1 with a 3.98 ERA in 51 relief appearances last season. He missed 47 games from mid-July thru Sept. 1 after an emergency appendectomy.

"He can be effective versus righties and lefties and maybe finish a game," Shapiro said. "He's got the weapons to do that."

The Indians also agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Jeff D'Amico and invited him to spring training. He would get a $750,000, one-year contract if he's added to the roster and the chance to make $350,000 more in performance bonuses.

D'Amico went 9-16 with a 4.77 ERA in 29 starts for Pittsburgh last season, leading the NL in losses.

Shapiro said D'Amico will have the opportunity to compete for a spot in the Indians' rotation.

D'Amico has a 44-50 career record with a 4.49 ERA in 124 starts. He spent six seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Shapiro said he wants to sign Stewart, who is eligible for arbitration, to a one-year deal.

His best season was 2002, when he went 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA while leading the Expos with 17 saves and 67 appearances. He is 10-4 with a 3.55 ERA and 20 saves in 180 games with Montreal since 2001.

He said he's willing to pitch from anywhere in the bullpen.

"Anytime I get the ball I feel good," Stewart said. "I don't feel that I have to have a role. I just like pitching."

Church, 25, hit .261 with 13 homers and 52 RBIs in 99 games at Double-A Akron last season. Izturis, 23, batted a combined .270 in 138 games with Akron and Triple-A Buffalo.

Shapiro said the Indians have depth at the corner outfield and utility infield positions, making both players expendable.

The Indians also agreed to minor league contracts with five other players: pitchers Luther Hackman, Matt Miller, Carl Sadler and infielders Chris Clapinski and Kevin Orie.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press