Could Corey Hart Not Make the Starting Lineup Opening Day?

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By: Melissa S. Wollering

Jim Edmonds wasn’t sure he would make the Milwaukee Brewers 40-man roster.  He wasn’t even sure he would play in the majors this year.  Now, he might get the opportunity to start for the Crew in RF on Opening Day against Colorado Rockies RHP Ubaldo Jimenez. For his age, Jim Edmonds is doing well.  The problem: recent arbitration winner and previous All-Star player Corey Hart is not. Having a pre-season slump at the plate is not a good sign for any ballclub, especially one who is now paying said slumper $4.8M.

It sucks to hear your Manager is dangling your starting position in the air this close to regular season play.  So imagine you hear Ken Macha tell the media that he hasn’t seen Hart have “three solid at-bats” yet throughout Spring Training. Ouch. Oh, it happened.  It happened.

Hart has had his ups and downs, sidelined last season to heal after physicians removed his appendix. Since then, Hart has decided to try corrective lenses to improve his sight. And back in 2008, Hart had a serious September slump that had fans calling for him to be benched in the NLDS. September has traditionally not been a good month for Hart.  So if he’s struggling in March, what is the rest of the season going to look like?

The Brewers had Braun back as of Wednesday, after he took four days off to alleviate some tight muscles in his lower back. The club is working with Carlos Gomez in CF to help him become more consistent at the plate. Jody Gerut has been spotty at best with the bat as a utility outfielder and now Jim Edmonds will provide a veteran presence in the same role.

Regardless of their quality of play, Hart’s $4.8M contract was a contentious point prior to Spring Training.  After several weeks of abysmal performance and should his batting average not improve, can Milwaukee fans stomach another Bill Hall-esque flop?  Mind you, Bill Hall was being paid nearly twice as much as Hart for being a toadstool at third. Sorry, Billy.  You know I respect you.

In other Brewers news, Narveson may be edging Parra out for that #5 spot in the pitching rotation.  Narveson has not allowed a run this spring in “A” competition and has been a consistently impressive individual in the minors prior to this season. We’ll see what happens closer to April 15th, when Ken Macha plans to reveal his fifth. He can work off four in the rotation until they play the Cubs in that series.

More on Suppan’s injury: they’re calling it cervical disk pain in his neck. An MRI detected the disk is slightly out of alignment and the pain sometimes travels down his arm.  He’s been taking treatment for it, which has helped some but apparently hasn’t cured him. Doesn’t sound like it was bothering him a whole heap; which proves my point in yesterday’s article, which you can read here.

Furthermore, the 15-DL stint was backdated to March 26th.  Therefore, Suppan could be available as soon as the end of next week.  If he’s still experiencing pain, I think the Brewers won’t hesitate to put him on the 60-day DL and give Narveson or Parra the pitching time. Beats risking the loss of one of them or Carlos Villanueva, who by the way is SAVED thanks to this DL assignment. That leads me to present you with your 2010 Brewers roster:

12 Pitchers
RHP Dave Bush
RHP Todd Coffey
LHP Doug Davis
RHP Yovani Gallardo
RHP LaTroy Hawkins
RHP Trevor Hoffman
LHP Chris Narveson
LHP Manny Parra
LHP Mitch Stetter
RHP Claudio Vargas
RHP Carlos Villanueva
LHP Randy Wolf

2 Catchers
George Kottaras
Gregg Zaun

6 Infielders
Craig Counsell
Alcides Escobar
Prince Fielder
Joe Inglett
Casey McGehee
Rickie Weeks

5 Outfielders
Ryan Braun
Jim Edmonds
Jody Gerut
Carlos Gomez
Corey Hart

I’ll continue to chronicle developments as we lead up to your Christmas morning and mine, Opening Day 2010. For the Brewers, that means Monday, April 5, live from Miller Park.

Baseball, my long-lost friend! You leave me in October.  I feel no love.  Now you back. Oh, sweet baby pine tar.  Oh, big league chew and sunflower seeds. Shoot me your favorite things about baseball and we’ll discuss them in the coming days.

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