Corey Hart was in the best shape of his life but he’s not anymore

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post had the tweet of the day earlier when he said that now is that time of the spring when all of those guys who said that they were in the best shape of their lives are breaking down. I literally lol’d.

Tom Haudircourt has a concrete example of that in Corey Hart, who continues to battle an oblique strain:

“I still get random sharp pains in it when I make certain moves,” he said. “It’s still a pretty big area that’s sore, so they can’t really inject one spot (with cortisone). It’s very frustrating … What’s frustrating is that I was in the best shape of my life and this happened.”

OK, laughing out loud is easier in the abstract than it is when the concept is applied to an actual player. This, in turn, kind of sucks. Obliques are tough injuries. It doesn’t take much to tweak them and then you’re back to square one.  Hart is going to be counted on in what looks to be an all-in kind of season for the Brewers, so it’s better that they nurse him along slowly and make sure he’s healthy rather than trying to rush him back.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.