Knee injury sidelines Hart
That’s what you call a bad start to the exhibition season.
The Brewers’ starting rightfielder got bad news Sunday for the second consecutive spring when an MRI revealed he had torn cartilage in his right knee. Hart will undergo arthroscopic surgery later in the week and is expected to be out of action for three to four weeks.
That time frame would take the Brewers and Hart to the end of exhibition season, making it likely that he would open the regular season on the disabled list for the second year in a row.
“I think so; I think absolutely,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “If that timing is what they say it is, then yes.”
Roenicke noted that Hart missed the entire exhibition season in 2011 with an oblique strain and rushed back in April to play, with poor results. He said he did not want to put Hart in that position again.
“Physically he was ready, but (with) at-bats he wasn’t,” said Roenicke. “That will probably be the same case. I don’t want to rush him back.”
Roenicke noted how difficult it is to get through spring training without injuries. Last spring, the Brewers lost right-hander Zack Greinke (cracked rib), albeit from playing pickup basketball, catcher Jonathan Lucroy (broken finger) and Hart.
Second baseman Rickie Weeks also was scratched from the starting lineup with right shoulder tightness, but that was not considered a serious issue. Weeks was listed as day-to-day and is not expected to miss much time.
As for the game itself, it was a day for the pitchers. Milwaukee and San Francisco played to a 1-1 tie when the opener was called after nine innings, with the Brewers collecting only four hits.
“I thought the pitching was good; I thought the defense was good,” said Roenicke. “We just didn’t swing the bat that well, but it was the first game, and they had some good pitching out there.”
The Brewers had some solid mound work as well, beginning with lefty Randy Wolf, who retired all six hitters he faced. Roenicke used two starting pitchers, and Greinke followed Wolf to the mound, allowing three hits but no runs in two frames.
“I felt pretty good; nothing’s bothering me,” said Greinke. “My command
wasn’t amazing, but everything was OK. I made some good pitches; not all of them were good. About what you would expect from a first start.”
It was the first game action for Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun since news broke of his positive drug test, appeal and exoneration, all before reporting to camp. As expected, Brewers fans gave him a mostly warm welcome but others took the opportunity to heckle him.
“Urine sample! Urine sample!” one small group chanted during his first at-bat.
When Braun came to the plate a second time, one loud fan screamed, “You’re a cheater!”
Braun struck out swinging against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner and went down looking against Shane Loux in his only at-bats.
“It’s certainly going to be an adjustment, but overall it is not something that really factors into my thought process or preparations too much,” Braun said of the heckling.
As for getting back on the field, Braun said, “Yeah, it was great. I think for all of us as a team, you look forward to games starting. It’s a little more adrenaline, little more excitement and enthusiasm. So, it was fun.
“First couple of weeks, it’s fun trying to find your timing, rhythm, see some different pitches, get in different counts. Literally like seeing the ball out of the (pitcher’s) hand, finding your timing and rhythm.”
Braun said it was tough to get bad news on Hart so early in camp but said the Brewers have enough depth to get by until he returns.
“You feel for him personally,” said Braun. “He’s always been one of my best friends. He’s a great player. He certainly helps our team a lot. So, from that perspective, it’s disappointing. Obviously, as a team, we’re better off if we have him.
“We do have the luxury of having some depth. Our fourth and fifth outfielders (Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki) are as good as anybody in baseball. It’s never something you want to see happen, but we have the depth to be able to hold down the fort until he comes back.”