Could Hart get a Classic call?

A number of fans e-mailed me this morning wondering whether Corey Hart might be considered as a replacement for Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe on Team USA’s roster for the World Baseball Classic. The wishy-washy answer is maybe, but probably not.

Here’s what we do know: Hawpe is out with a hand injury, and USA Baseball executive director Paul Seiler said he would meet with Team USA manager Davey Johnson and other officials on Saturday night in Tampa to decide how to replace him.

One option is Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick, who was on the preliminary roster but declined a spot on the final roster because he didn’t think he would get enough playing time. But according to Seiler, the rules allow teams to add up to five players who weren’t on the preliminary roster if they are replacing someone who is injured, and Hart will at least be in the conversation.

“Corey Hart is a good name, and we will throw that on the table when we talk,” Seiler said before boarding his flight to Florida.

One issue is that Hawpe bats left-handed, and Johnson may want another lefty bat in the lineup. There’s also the very important matter of whether Hart would be interested, and on Saturday at lunchtime, the answer was no.

“I think I’d rather stay here and get my work in,” he said.

Mark this in the category of “pure speculation,” but I wonder if Hart would have a different answer to Johnson or Seiler if a real opportunity presented itself. This entire post could be a moot point if USA Baseball opts to approach someone else.

Ryan Braun, meanwhile, is looking forward to his stint with Team USA. He just told me he plans to play all nine innings against the Angels today, and will depart tomorrow for Tampa to join his American teammates. Considering how thin the U.S. outfield ranks have suddenly become, Braun should have no trouble at all getting at-bats in the tournament. 
 

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