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.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.