Corey Hart is “pretty close” to beginning rehab assignment

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Milwaukee first basemen have hit .188 with four homers and a .521 OPS this season, which is what happens when you primarily use light-hitting middle infielders like Alex Gonzalez and Yuniesky Betancourt there, but help is on the way.

Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that Corey Hart, who’s been sidelined all season following January knee surgery, has started traveling with the team in preparation for a minor-league rehab assignment in the not-too-distant future.

Hart is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list tomorrow, which obviously isn’t happening, but the impending free agent told McCalvy that he’s “pretty close” and mostly just “waiting for the running stuff to get better.” Of course, “the running stuff” is sort of important even if Hart has been fine taking batting practice and fielding grounders.

Video: Starling Marte refuses to take first base after being hit by pitch

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was hit on the hand by a Jack Flaherty pitch in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals. Rather than take first base, Marte — who came to the plate with a runner on first base — insisted to home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman that the ball hit the knob of the bat, not his hand. Marte was allowed to continue his at-bat, though manager Clint Hurdle came out to discuss the ruling with Dreckman. Marte eventually grounded into a fielder’s choice. He then got caught attempting to steal second base and the Pirates scored zero runs in the inning.

According to Baseball Prospectus, a team that has runners on first and second with no outs is expected to score 1.55 runs. Having a runner on first base with one out yields 0.56 expected runs. Marte essentially cost his team a run by rejecting first base. Oops.