Corey Hart takes outdoor batting practice, nearing return

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Brewers outfielder Corey Hart opened the season on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle and manager Ron Roenicke said at the time that there was no timetable for his return. Now, about two weeks later, that has changed.

From MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy comes word that Hart was able to take live batting practice in an outdoor setting Thursday for the first time since suffering his spring oblique injury. Hart took swings in indoor cages on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Brewers are hoping that the 29-year-old will be ready to begin playing in minor league rehab games this weekend — likely Sunday — and that he will feel well enough to return to the major league starting lineup on or around April 22.

“That will be nice to see,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. “He’s going to do [outdoor batting practice] for a few days, and then if everything goes well, he’ll be ready to go out on a rehab assignment.”

Hart batted just .172/.221/.313 this spring across 68 plate appearances, but he’s coming off a career-best 2010 season that saw him slug 31 home runs against 102 RBI. He should do just fine here in 2011.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.