Early Friday morning, Brewers insider Tom Haudricourt reported that former All-Star outfielder and first-baseman Corey Hart will undergo knee surgery next Tuesday that will cause him to miss at least six weeks of the upcoming regular season. Hart has had knee problems in the past including last year in spring training when he tore some cartilage in his right knee. As you might remember, Hart made remarkable progress after that surgery and was able to be in the Opening Day starting lineup. He ended up having a great season during which he hit 30 home runs and batted .270.
The absence of Hart will allow Mat Gamel to return to the position he held at the start of the 2012 season before he tore his ACL. Before that injury, Gamel batted .246 with a .293 OBP in those 21 games. Just like Hart, Gamel has had a troubled history when it comes to injuries. However it appears that Gamel is already 100 percent recovered from the ACL tear according to Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash, who told Cash Kruth of MLB.com.
A dark-horse candidate to get some playing time due to Corey Hart’s absence could possibly be minor-league prospect Hunter Morris. Morris will need to have an impressive showcase in spring training but he does have the minor-league resume that makes him deserving of a chance with the big-league squad. Last season for the AA Huntsville Stars, Morris hit for both 28 home runs and a .303 batting average that put him up there as one of the top first-base prospects in all of the minors.
No matter how good either Morris or Gamel will be at the start of the season, they won’t likely match Corey Hart’s overall production. 2013 will be the final season of Hart’s three-year contract and he’s due to become a free agent this fall. This recent injury brings to question whether or not the Brewers will try to bring him back. Yes, he’s been a productive player throughout his career in Milwaukee but he is currently 30 years old and it’s questionable whether GM Doug Melvin will want to extend him, no matter how well he plays when he returns in mid-May.