Despite dealing with diabetes, Kernels’ Stewart excels

Expecting to pitch Tuesday in MWL All-Star Game

Baseball, Diamonds and Ice by Jeff Johnson, Kernels Top Story,
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June 16, 2014 | 1:48 pm

CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s weird how you sometimes discover a life-altering medical condition.

Kohl Stewart was just a normal third-grader, a kid playing baseball for a club called the Banditos in the Houston area. But his coach noticed some things about him that weren’t normal.

Things Roger Jarvis had noticed about his own son, who was Kohl’s age.

“Grogginess, urinating all the time,” Stewart said. “I was getting slower, I was skinny.”

It was Type 1 diabetes.

“Looking back at it, I learned more about my body than the normal kid my age would,” said the Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher. “It’s just something that became a part of my life. I don’t really think about it anymore.”

Stewart and third baseman Bryan Haar will represent the Cedar Rapids Kernels Tuesday night in the Midwest League All-Star Game at Comstock Park, Mich. The 19-year-old pitcher is expected to throw at least part of an inning.

He’ll leave the team Wednesday for a few days and fly back home to Texas to meet with his physician, past due for a check on his condition. Call it diabetes maintenance.

“You’re supposed to see a doctor every three months, and I haven’t seen one since spring training,” Stewart said. “The whole time, they were looking at the all-star break for me to go do that ... Nobody knows me better than my own doctor. They might change some things, they might not.”

Nothing changed for Stewart athletically despite being diabetic. He was a hot-shot quarterback who was slated to become Johnny Manziel’s replacement at Texas A&M until the Minnesota Twins took him with the fourth-overall pick of last year’s Major League Baseball draft.

He signed for $4.544 million dollars and has had a very good start to his pro career. Polished beyond his years, Stewart has has a 2.44 earned run average in 12 carefully monitored starts.

On a 75-pitch count, Stewart has limited opponents to a .212 batting average. The strikeout total is a tad low for a kid with his stuff (41 in 59 innings), though he believes that’ll improve.

“I don’t know how important strikeouts are, but that’s a number that everyone is going to look at and point toward,” he said. “That’s the thing that me and (pitching coach) Ivan (Arteaga) are working on right now, actually. I’ve had a lot of guys where I’ve wanted them. It’s just making that one pitch to put them away. I think I have those pitches to strike those guys out with. My fastball and slider in the right spot, not necessarily throwing my fastball and slider as hard as I can.

“People are going to want to see more of them, but as a pitcher, I want to keep my team in the game. I think the more I work with him, the more they will come. I can’t really worry about them. I’m a guy that’s going to pound the zone and ask you to put the ball in play before I start worrying about pitching around guys. As long as I keep getting guys out and getting them to pound the ball into the ground, that’s just as good, in my opinion.”

Stewart gives himself one shot daily of Lantus, a 24-hour insulin. He’ll also give himself a shot if he feels his blood sugar is a bit high.

He’s thinking about eventually getting an insulin pump that constantly monitors his blood sugar and automatically injects insulin when needed. But beyond that, diabetes doesn’t enter his mind much.

“You know, I got it when I was in third grade, and I’ve been dealing with it ever since,” he said. “I think being an athlete is a good thing for it.”

How They’re Doing

•-Chad Christensen (Cedar Rapids Washington/Nebraska) — Hitting .296 in 61 games for Class-A Cedar Rapids (Twins), with 11 doubles, six home runs, 38 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.

•-Andrew Hanse (Linn-Mar/Iowa) — Is 0-3 with a 6.67 earned run average in 15 relief appearances for Class-A Bowling Green (Rays). Recently was activated from the disabled list.

•-B.J. Hermsen (West Delaware) — Recently reassigned to Class-A Fort Myers (Twins) after a lengthy stay in extended spring training. Has no record in three games and has allowed four hits and a run in 1 2/3 innings.

•-Jon Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier/Tampa) — 3-0 with three saves and 1.63 earned run average for Class-A Delmarva (Orioles). Has 50 strikeouts and .150 opposing batting average in 38.2 innings.

•-Derrick Loveless (Solon) — Hitting .256 in 55 games for Class-A Lansing (Blue Jays), with a home run, 24 RBIs and eight steals.

•-Colin Rea (Cascade) — Has made 14 starts for Class-A Lake Elsinore (Padres), compiling a 5-5 record and 3.76 ERA.

•-Scott Schebler (Cedar Rapids Prairie/DMACC) — Hitting .260 in 67 games for Double-A Chattanooga (Dodgers), with 12 doubles, 7 triples, 12 home runs and 36 RBIs.

•-Kellen Sweeney (Cedar Rapids Jefferson) — Hit .222 in 10 games for Class-A Dunedin (Blue Jays) before being given his unconditional release last week.

•-Ryan Sweeney (Cedar Rapids Xavier) — Back with the Chicago Cubs after a lengthy stint on the DL, is hitting .188 with six RBIs in 23 games for the Chicago Cubs.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@sourcemedia.net

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