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Hart hasn’t been ruled out of opener

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 7, 2012
— Barring any setbacks, Corey Hart should be back with the Milwaukee Brewers within a month.

The rightfielder had successful arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee Tuesday morning, two days after an MRI revealed the injury.


The original diagnosis was that Hart would return within 3-4 weeks.


Both Hart and manager Ron Roenicke acknowledged Monday there was a possibility more damage could be uncovered during the procedure, but that was not the case. As a result, the Brewers are hopeful Hart will miss minimal time at the start of the regular season.


“That was good news,” Roenicke said on the heels of the Brewers’ 6-0 defeat to the Oakland A’s in Maryvale. “(Team physican William) Raasch was pretty confident in what he did, and hopefully Corey reacts well to it and everything goes smooth there.


“He said he’d be in tomorrow, so that’s good.”


Opening day is April 6, which will be exactly one month after Hart’s surgery. The challenge is getting Hart healthy enough to resume normal baseball activities, and then getting him enough at-bats in game situations so he’s not too far behind when he’s declared ready to join the team.


“When we can get him back on the field and get him enough at-bats,” Roenicke said. “There’s going to be a window of about three days where there’s no games that we’ll have to try to create something maybe on the minor-league side.”


Without Hart for at least the next three weeks, Roenicke will be functioning without his primary backup at first base behind Mat Gamel.


Taylor Green and Brooks Conrad—utility men who have been expected to battle it out for the last roster spot—probably will get the initial opportunities to replace Hart in that role.


Another possibility is Travis Ishikawa, who homered Monday night after subbing for Gamel. Also a left-handed hitter, Ishikawa will see some time in the outfield as the Brewers try to get a closer look at his versatility.


Bridging the gap

With Shaun Marcum on the shelf for the time being with a sore right shoulder, Roenicke was asked who would enter the mix in his place. None of the three names he mentioned—Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers and Wily Peralta—come as a surprise.


Estrada filled in ably last year for both Zack Greinke and Chris Narveson when each had stints on the disabled list, becoming a major spring-training success story after not even being invited to big-league camp initially. Fiers was a September call-up who went 13-3 with a 1.86 earned-run average in 18 starts between Class AA Huntsville and Class AAA Nashville.


Peralta, meanwhile, is considered the Brewers’ top overall minor-league prospect.


“Those three, we think, are ready to pitch in the big leagues,” Roenicke said.


Fiers, it would appear, has a chance to start the season in the Brewers’ bullpen. Peralta, Roenicke said, is likely slated to open at Nashville.


Still smiling

Ryan Braun didn’t let his second fruitless day at the plate this spring affect his sense of humor.


After striking out and fouling out Tuesday, Braun said, “I can only head in one direction from here. The overwhelming odds are that I’m going to put one in fair territory one of these days.”


In his first two spring games, Braun is 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. While it might seem that Braun is out of whack because of a tumultuous winter, including his appeal of a positive drug test and exoneration, he said that’s not the case.


“I feel good; my timing and rhythm is starting to come,” said Braun, one of many regulars off to a slow start.


Asked if his offseason preparation was affected by the drug-testing turmoil, Braun said, “I don’t think anything was really impacted.”


“I don’t really need a lot of at-bats. Normally, if I get 30 to 40 at-bats, I don’t really need too many more than that. Every year is a little bit different. Sometimes I feel locked in sooner than later. Other years, I need more at-bats.”


Competitive spirit

Some pitchers work through a progression in spring training, concentrating on their fastball in the early games and mixing in their breaking stuff later.


Not Yovani Gallardo.


The Brewers’ budding ace likes to start “pitching” from the get-go and it showed in his first Cactus League start against Oakland. Gallardo went two innings, allowing one hit and striking out four.


Gallardo became the fourth Brewers starter to throw two shutout innings, joining Randy Wolf, Greinke and Narveson.


“The key for all of us is going out there and getting ahead and throw strikes,” said Gallardo. “In past springs, I think that’s what I’ve done—just go out there since Day 1 and throw all my pitches.


Though Roenicke has not made it official yet, Gallardo is lined up to pitch on opening day, April 6, vs. St. Louis. It would be his third consecutive opener.



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