Hart still hopes to avoid arbitration hearing

Unfinished business couldn’t keep Brewers outfielder Corey Hart from the practice fields on Sunday.   

Hart still does not have a 2009 contract, and each day brings him closer to the unpleasant reality of an arbitration hearing that’s scheduled for Wednesday. Yet Hart was among the Brewers position players who reported early for camp, and he’s trying to keep his business separate from baseball.

“I know a lot of guys don’t like to come in before things get settled, but I want to be part of this team from Day 1,” Hart said after taking batting practice and participating in fielding drills at Maryvale Baseball Park. “If I wasn’t here, I’d be sitting at home kicking myself, thinking there was something better I should be doing.”

Hart remains hopeful that a deal will be struck before his hearing on Wednesday at a Phoenix-area hotel. That would be good news for the Brewers, who have not seen a case go that far since before general manager Doug Melvin’s tenure began in September 2002.

In his first year of eligibility, Hart is seeking $3.8 million in arbitration while the Brewers offered $2.7 million. The sides have been talking for nearly a month with little reportable progress.

“I think [a compromise] is going to happen,” Hart said. “I’m trying to stay out of it as much as I can, but I think we’re all hoping that something is going to happen. Obviously, nobody wants a hearing and I love everything about Milwaukee from the owner on down. I have nothing to say to put them down because I’ve enjoyed it, and I think they know that.”

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