Corey Hart underwent knee surgery three weeks ago and then needed eight stitches after hitting his head while lifting weights last week, and today the Brewers right fielder admitted that he may not be healthy by Opening Day.
Hart, who’s scheduled to resume playing in minor-league games Wednesday, told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he hopes to be in the lineup by the Brewers’ second or third series even if he begins the season on the disabled list.
By playing in minor-league games now instead of major-league games Hart’s stint on the DL can be backdated, allowing him to return before the usual 15 days, so clearly the Brewers aren’t anticipating a lengthy absence.
Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki figure to gain the most playing time while Hart remains out.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.