All-star Hart was determined to prove Milwaukee wrong
And he hasn’t forgotten.
“I was hurt by how I was treated,” said Hart. “I could either sulk or try to do something to change it. I was determined to prove them wrong.”
Hart was named to the National League all-star team Sunday along with teammates Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo. Braun became the first player in club history to be elected to three consecutive All-Star Games, finishing first among all major-league outfielders in fan balloting.
Hart, a 2008 all-star, was selected for the club in outfield balloting by the players. He finished third on that ballot behind Los Angeles’ Andre Ethier and Braun.
Gallardo was one of three starting pitchers selected by NL manager Charlie Manuel and will be an all-star for the first time though an injury later Sunday threatened his availability.
Struggling with vision problems that he later corrected with contacts, Hart had a miserable spring training, batting .172 with two homers and seven RBIs in 21 exhibition games. He was not in the starting lineup on opening day, yielding to veteran reserve Jim Edmonds in right field.
With Hart relegated to platoon status in the early going, the Brewers opted to submit Edmonds’ name, along with Braun and centerfielder Carlos Gomez, as the club’s outfield representatives for the fan ballot. Edmonds made the Brewers as a non-roster player in spring training after sitting out 2009.
Injuries eventually allowed Hart to see regular playing time and he took advantage, going on a power spree that had him leading the NL in home runs for several weeks. He still ranks among the leaders with 19 homers, 61 RBIs and a .572 slugging percentage, with an NL-best 20-game hitting streak still going.
If Jason Heyward is unable to play because of a left thumb injury that has him on the DL, Hart could find himself in the starting outfield with Braun and Ethier. Replacements are supposed to be the next-highest vote-getter on the players’ ballot, which would be Hart.
Asked if he felt slighted that the club didn’t submit his name for fan balloting, Hart said, “Yeah. I wasn’t happy with how a lot of things went early in the year. I worked my way back to where I am. I’m happy with being able to come back and show them I still got it.
“I obviously hoped that the players would get it right. They always do. I feel happier about that than actually making (the team), I think. Just to prove that (club officials) were wrong and I got treated unfairly. ... I feel that they see they might have misjudged me.”
Braun led all major-league outfielders in fan balloting for the third consecutive year with 2,972,525 votes. Braun is batting .295 with 23 doubles, 11 homers and 51 RBIs.
Gallardo’s selection was rewarding because the competition was stiff among starting pitchers in the NL. He ranks among the leaders with 122 strikeouts and a 2.58 ERA to go with an 8-4 record, two shutouts and two complete games.
His status was put in immediate jeopardy, however, when he left his start Sunday against St. Louis in the third inning with a left oblique strain. If he doesn’t return to action before the All-Star Game, there is little chance he would participate in that game.
Whether Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder also goes to Anaheim remains to be seen. In the Home Run Derby Fan Poll conducted by MLB, fans selected Fielder as the second NL player they’d like to see participate in that contest, behind Pujols and ahead of Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard.
Pujols already has said he won’t take part in the Derby. As the defending champion, Fielder likely will be invited, especially in light of the poll.
Asked a couple of days ago if he would go if invited, Fielder said he’d have to think about it.