Shannon Stewart, left, chats Monday with Jays manager John Gibbons. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press))

Outfielder Shannon Stewart is delighted to be back with the Toronto Blue Jays.

"This is where it all started for me," he told reporters Monday at Dunedin, Fla., where the Blue Jays hold spring training.

"My best memories playing in the big leagues have been with Toronto."

Stewart, who turned 34 on Monday, revealed that he expected to re-sign with the Oakland Athletics until Toronto offered him a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

He hit .290 last season with 12 home runs, 48 runs batted in, 79 runs scored and 11 stolen bases in 146 games with Oakland.

"It seemed like that was where I was going to head back," Stewart said. "Then, I guess, that fell through.

"Seattle was mentioned, Kansas City at the end. But there was no real offers that were on the table."

Stewart is a lifetime .298 hitter with 114 HRs, 566 RBIs, 839 runs and 193 steals in 1,334 games over 13 MLB seasons with the Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins and Athletics.

He will likely serve as Toronto's reserve outfielder, spelling centre-fielder Vernon Wells and right-fielder Alex Rios or platooning with Reed Johnson in left field.

"[Johnson and Stewart] are two good hitters," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We just want what is best for the team."

"My body feels good now," Stewart said. "It felt pretty good last year.

"I'm just coming in here to help the ball club out. I'm sure it will be, maybe, a platoon role and, if it means playing every now and then, whatever."

With files from the Canadian Press