Once he underwent surgery on his right knee in mid-January, Corey Hart optimistically declared that he’d be back on the field by May. The team expected him back in June, which was a little more realistic. One setback after another have occurred since then, leaving plenty of questions about when – or if – he’ll make his way back into the Milwaukee Brewers lineup this season. As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal suggests in his latest column, there could now be a chance that Hart misses the remainder of the 2013 season:
At this point, it’s not completely out of the question that he will miss the entire season, though nobody is ready to say that yet.
Rehab continues to plug along slower than expected for Hart. Setbacks in recent workouts have stalled his progress enough that there are no timetables being set – not for his return to Milwaukee or for the start of an official rehab assignment.
Hart’s injury was never deemed a positive by any means, but few at the time thought it’d have such a detrimental impact on the Brewers’ season. His absence has triggered a domino effect of sorts, as the team has gone through one first baseman after another on the year with little to show for it. The team ranks last in all of Major League Baseball at the position in on-base percentage (.222, entering play Tuesday), 29th in slugging percentage (.284), and 26th in home runs (5). Yuniesky Betancourt has seen most of the at bats at the position, but he’s hitting a mere .205/.233/.346 on the year and hasn’t hit a home run since April. Alex Gonzalez slid over for a stretch of time, but after batting .177/.203/.230 he found his way to the unemployment line. Juan Francisco (.156/.259/.267) hasn’t fared much better.
Hart, by comparison, has averaged a .279/.343/.514 line over the past three seasons, with 29 HR and 83 RBI. At this rate, Milwaukee will be lucky if they get 20 HR from their first baseman by season’s end.
Approaching free agency following the season, the injury and string of setbacks couldn’t have come at a worse time for Hart. With another season in line with his recent history he’d of set himself up for a multi year deal on the open market with relative ease. Haudricourt says that the Brewers already weren’t planning on a significant extension offer prior to the injury, almost assuring that they won’t look to bring him back now. After already missing most of the year and with the possibility of missing what remains, he could be facing a one year deal with the hopes that he can rebuild some value.