Hart frustrated over slow healing process
No timetable for return from strained left rib-cage muscle
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers still have no timetable for All-Star right fielder Corey Hart to return from the disabled list, and no one is more frustrated than the player himself.Hart has yet to play a game this spring because of a strained left rib-cage muscle. He was injured making a throw during an outfield drill on March 26 and has only been able to take batting practice twice since then. Every time he tries hitting or throwing at full strength, he has a setback. "It's frustrating, because I want to be here [playing] and not watching," Hart said. "But there are things I can't do that I need to do to get out there. It's just not healing. We'll try a few things different from now on." Hart was examined by head team physician William Raasch on Monday and will stay with the team throughout its first homestand of the season. He was sensitive about the notion that he's facing a mental hurdle in addition to a physical one after reading some comments about his progress from earlier Monday. "He's still trying to push things to get to 100 percent; he's not there yet," manager Ron Roenicke said Monday morning. "He still feels it a little bit on a full swing and he still feels it a little bit when he's trying to throw hard. "Maybe I shouldn't say he still feels it. He feels that if he does throw it, there's going to be a little tightness there, and he's got to get through that. He's not going 100 percent yet. There is not a timetable." Hart has to be 100 percent confident both throwing and swinging the bat before the Brewers allow him to begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. With Hart sidelined, the Brewers are playing without a bat that produced 31 home runs and 102 RBIs last season. There was more encouraging news on two other injury fronts: Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, coming back from a fractured right pinkie finger, was a full participant in a Minor League game Sunday, Roenicke said. He'll play an exhibition game between Double-A Huntsville and Class A Brevard County on Wednesday in Florida, and then will travel with the Huntsville club for its Thursday season opener. Zack Greinke's first bullpen session should come before the Braves leave town on Thursday. Once Greinke begins throwing off a mound, head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger will have a much clearer timetable for his return. "He'd like to move a little faster, but Roger has the clamps on him right now," general manager Doug Melvin said. "If there's a point you want to speed it up, it should be at the end of the process, not at the start of the process. Right now, we have to build up the arm strength."
Mitre plays waiting game
MILWAUKEE -- It's business as usual -- for now -- for Brewers right-hander Sergio Mitre, who still does not know whether he'll be in the bullpen or on the pitcher's mound at the start of Wednesday's game against the Braves.That night marks the first game in which Milwaukee needs a fifth starter to fill-in for the injured Zack Greinke, and Mitre remains the top in-house option. But if he is needed in relief on Monday or Tuesday, then the Brewers may need to dip into the Minor League system for a fresh arm. "It will probably be dictated by these next two games," manager Ron Roenicke said Monday morning. "We have an idea what we want to do, and hopefully things won't change to where we have to do something different." Roenicke said he worried about taxing his bullpen so early in the season, and even with eight relievers on hand, starting Mitre on Wednesday would take one of the team's extended arms out of the mix for the several days that follow. But other options would require a roster move, and the Brewers' 40-man roster is full. Mitre debuted with two scoreless innings in Saturday's loss to the Reds and allowed only one hit. It was only his second appearance in a Brewers uniform counting one game in Spring Training. "It's always good to pitch," he said. "It's good for me to get things rolling with a new team, and I think it's also big that guys get a feel for where they can play. With my pitching style, you're going to get a lot of ground balls, so it's good for the guys behind you to be able to situate themselves better. I just have to stay ready and focused." As for getting word about Wednesday, Mitre said, "the sooner the better, so I can prepare myself."
Melvin defends Brewers defense
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin defended his team's defense in the wake of its season-opening sweep to the Reds.He pointed out that the Brewers were charged with only two errors in the three losses, though Melvin did refer to a couple of decisions on fielder's choice plays that may have hurt. "The part that probably discouraged me more was what happened after those plays," Melvin said. "We gave up my best friend, the three-run homer. ... You've got to shut them down. Yovani [Gallardo] shut them down in the first game when there was the play in right field and [Mark] Kotsay made a great catch and the umpire said it wasn't a catch. Yovani went out there and struck out Drew Stubbs to get out of the inning. "Teams are going to make mistakes. You watch games every night. Defensively, yeah, we're challenged defensively as a club. But if there is a mistake made or an error made, then we have to shut it down. You can't go out there and hang your head and give up a three-run homer or a big inning."
With Mark Kotsay off to an 0-for-7 start to his Brewers career, newcomer Nyjer Morgan made his first start in right field for Monday's home opener against the Braves. "He's got some energy," manager Ron Roenicke said. "And if he gets on base, he's got a lot of energy." Kotsay should be back in the lineup against the Braves' Derek Lowe on Tuesday. ... Rickie Weeks hit two leadoff home runs in the season-opening series against the Reds, giving him 23 for his career. The club record is held by Paul Molitor, who hit 33 leadoff homers over 15 Brewers seasons.