Corey Hart is trying to make a comeback, with the Pirates and without his speed

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Corey Hart missed all of 2013 following knee surgery and might as well have missed all of last season too, hitting just .203 with a .590 OPS in 68 games for the Mariners while looking like a shell of his former All-Star self.

Hart signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Pirates this offseason and now the 33-year-old is on the comeback trail, telling Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that he’s trying to adjust his overall game to no longer having plus speed:

Speed was definitely a big part of my game. But, right now instead of being tall and skinny, I filled out a little bit, so the weight is there and the knees are there. I’ll try to use the speed when I can, but I have to be smarter about the running process now.

Hart is 6-foot-6, but logged time in center field for the Brewers and swiped 20-plus bases in two different seasons. Those days are gone now, so Hart is focusing on getting his bat back to where it was when he ranked among the league’s top right-handed power hitters, batting .280 with 30 homers per season from 2010-2012.

He’ll likely begin this season in a part-time role, platooning with the left-handed-hitting Pedro Alvarez at first base, but he’s also a candidate to see some time in the outfield corners if the Pirates need reinforcements there.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.