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Hart to open season on active roster

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Tom Haudricourt
April 3, 2012
— Throughout spring training, the Milwaukee Brewers had two health questions that needed to be answered before opening day.

Would right-hander Shaun Marcum bounce back from shoulder inflammation in time to make the starting rotation? Would right fielder Corey Hart recover in time from minor knee surgery to be in the opening lineup?


As it turned out, to the delight of club officials, the answer to both questions was yes.


Manager Ron Roenicke confirmed Monday morning that Hart will open the season on the active roster, barring a last-minute setback. After playing five consecutive days in minor-league games, Hart proclaimed himself fit to play, as did team doctor William Raasch.


“He’s ready,” said Roenicke. “He’s actually pretty excited about it.”


Hart was given the day off Monday, as were most of the regulars. He is scheduled to play in the Brewers’ final two exhibition games against Arizona, then play in the season opener Friday against St. Louis.


It was four weeks ago Tuesday that Hart underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove torn cartilage in his right knee.


“He said today he woke up and felt great,” said Roenicke. “The original report was three to five weeks (of recovery) and he’s right at four now. He pushed it.”


As for how much Hart will be able to play in each game at season’s start, Roenicke said, “I think it will be more just talking to Corey and see how it goes, depending also on how the game goes as to whether he’ll play nine (innings) that first day or second day.”


As originally planned, Roenicke said Hart will bat in the No. 5 spot, behind third baseman Aramis Ramirez and ahead of first baseman Mat Gamel.


Last spring, the Brewers broke camp with right-hander Zack Greinke (cracked rib), catcher Jonathan Lucroy (broken finger) and Hart (oblique strain) on the disabled list. With Marcum and Hart healthy, they look to head to Milwaukee with a full contingent of players.


“It will be nice to start the season with a full team this year, unlike last year,” said Roenicke.


Roenicke held off on announcing the final player move, but it appears utility infielder Brooks Conrad will make the 25-man roster with first baseman Travis Ishikawa going to Class AAA Nashville.


Greinke remains mum

Greinke remained true to his word not to talk about contract extension discussions with the club and also declined to address reports that he is close to hiring an agent, perhaps Casey Close.


“Sorry,” said Greinke, who did add that he has not hired an agent yet. “There is definitely a lot of false stuff out there. I don’t know where people are getting this information because I only tell my wife pretty much what’s going on and she doesn’t talk to people.”


A signing that affects discussions between the Brewers and Greinke took place Monday when San Francisco’s Matt Cain agreed to a six-year, $127.5 million contract, biggest ever for a right-handed pitcher. Cain, 27, is 69-73 with a 3.35 ERA in 204 major-league games; Greinke, 28, is 76-73 with a 3.82 ERA in 238 games.


Asked if Cain’s deal affects him, Greinke smiled and said, “Maybe. Maybe not.”


Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said it was only logical that Cain’s signing would have an effect on talks with Greinke.


“There will be an impact, I’m sure,” said Melvin. “Any signing impacts other players who haven’t signed.”


Greinke did talk openly and honestly about his only rough outing of the spring. In three innings against the Chicago White Sox, he surrendered five hits, six runs (five earned) and three walks. Entering the game, he had allowed two earned runs in 19 1/3 innings (0.93 ERA).


“It was such a mess I can’t really even think about it too much. It felt like not really a baseball game going on out there. I was getting behind in the count and throwing meatballs and letting them crush the ball. It was pretty stupid.”



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