Brewers manager Ken Macha confirmed what general manager Doug Melvin hinted on Tuesday: That Jim Edmonds, and not Corey Hart, could very well be the team’s Opening Day right fielder.
The choice will depend partly on whether Hart shows any signs of life at the plate in the Brewers’ final four Spring Training games and partly on when Edmonds re-joins the team. He traveled home on Monday night to tend to an urgent family matter and, as of Wednesday morning, Macha wasn’t sure when Edmonds would be able to return.
It helps Edmonds’ case that he is a left-handed hitter. Hart bats right-handed, and the Rockies’ Opening Day starter is righty Ubaldo Jimenez.
Hart has been working his way through a dismal spring. He went 0-for-3 against the Angels on Tuesday and entered Wednesday’s game against the Cubs with a .135 batting average (7-for-52) a .167 on-base percentage and 16 strikeouts versus only two walks. It’s not for a lack of playing time; only three teammates entered play Wednesday with more at-bats than Hart.
“He really hasn’t put together a game or two where he’s had quality at-bats,” Macha said.
Hart won his arbitration case with the Brewers over the winter and will draw a $4.8 million salary in 2010.
The other position in flux is catcher, where Gregg Zaun missed another game Wednesday with a left quadriceps strain. If he cannot amass some at-bats before Opening Day, the backup option is George Kottaras. Left fielder Ryan Braun, who had missed the team’s last four games because of a stiff back, returned to the lineup against the Cubs.