Sunday, February 10, 2013
Filling in for Hart
By Jason Catania
Corey Hart had surgery on his knee recently, and the initial prognosis was that he was expected to miss four months, meaning a mid-to-late May return. But that timetable may have moved up.
While Hart is out, the club is expected to go with Mat Gamel at first base, but Gamel has had injury and performance issues that could lead to the club looking outside the organization if Hart has any setbacks.
A report last week, though, said that Hart may actually be a month ahead of schedule in his rehab and could be back, if everything goes just right, by the end of April.
Still, there are a few first basemen that could make some sense for the Brewers to check in on via trade, including Miami's Logan Morrison, who could end up being a long-term answer. The Mariners' Justin Smoak will get one more shot to prove he can hit in Seattle, but the Brewers could be his second chance. If the Rangers ultimately decide to use Jurickson Profar at second base and move Ian Kinsler to first, Mitch Moreland could become expendable. That timeline could depend on Profar's first month or two in Triple-A.
Regardless, Gamel is in line to get another opportunity, and if he can stay healthy and perform well enough, that -- combined with the chance of Hart returning sooner -- could stave off the necessity of a trade in the immediate future. GM Doug Melvin also told the Journal-Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt that backup shortstop Alex Gonzalez, somewhat surprisingly, may also factor in as a backup at first base, too, especially against tough left-handers, as Gamel swings from that side and has always struggled versus them.
It might not be a bad idea for Melvin to check around, regardless, as Hart's contract expires after this coming season, and Gamel is far from a sure thing as a full-time replacement.