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.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Free-agent ace Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened by injuries.

After making his first start last season in early August, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then opted out of his contract to become a free agent.

Texas announced the signing Friday night after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”

Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy as its new manager. The Rangers’ six straight losing seasons are their worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

The Rangers were big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).