Corey Hart hopes to return from knee surgery by the end of April

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When Corey Hart underwent right knee surgery last week, it was estimated that he would be sidelined for four months. However, he is determined to make it back sooner.

According to ESPN.com, Hart said today that he has already begun rehabilitating his knee and feels that there’s a “realistic” chance he could be ready to play by the end of April. This would put him a month ahead of schedule.

“If it takes a little longer then mid to end of May, but I feel good about end of April,” Hart said in a text message. “So basically like 2011, when I came back and hit 26 homers in five months.”

Either way, the Brewers will have to begin the season without him. Mat Gamel, who missed all of last season following surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, is expected to get a chance to fill in. The Brewers were in talks with Lyle Overbay before he signed with the Red Sox this week and remain on the lookout for additional depth.

Umpire ejects Adrian Beltre for moving on-deck circle

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As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.

Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.

Video: Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford hits an inside-the-park grand slam

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Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.

Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.

Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:

Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.

Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.