Just three weeks after having knee surgery, Corey Hart is back in action. Hart took part in his first game since the surgery today, suiting up with the Triple-A squad. Hart didn’t see action in the field (he appeared as the designated hitter), but came to bat four times, getting a single and a double.
It’s definitely a good sign that Hart is back playing, but whether he will be back for Opening Day or not is still a bit unclear. Both Hart and the Brewers have said they will wait until they are sure the outfielder is back to full strength before bringing him back. However, their apparent caution wouldn’t necessarily mean an extended stay on the DL: As long as Hart plays in only minor-league spring training games, the Brewers can place him on the DL retroactive to March 26 to start the season. That way, he’d be able to return after only a handful of games instead of the usual 15 days, and it appears right now that Hart won’t miss Opening Day by much, if at all.
In kind-of related news, Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl, the two main candidates to take Hart’s place if he goes on the DL, were optioned to AAA Nashville today. This leaves the Brewers with 33 guys in camp vying for 25 spots. Both players were expected to spend most of their 2012 season in Nashville, but it’s still a bit surprising that two guys who had a least a decent chance of making the Opening Day roster were both cut with a week left in camp, especially considering that Hart will probably only play in minor-league games going forward. (I suppose this could be taken as a sign of confidence in Hart.) It wouldn’t take much trouble, however, to recall one of them (right now, Schafer appears to be the favorite) for a week or so if Hart isn’t ready come next week, so we likely haven’t seen the last of either of these guys.