Corey Hart began the 2010 season on the Brewers’ bench Monday, and he might have to get used to that feeling.
Veteran Jim Edmonds was the team’s choice to start Opening Day in right field, something of a surprise considering Hart’s $4.8 million salary and the fact he had started each of Milwaukee’s past three season openers. Brewers manager Ken Macha cited Edmonds’ limited success against Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez (3-for-5) and said Edmonds is slated for about 250 at-bats this season.
“I think Doug [Melvin, the Brewers’ general manager] to face tough right-handed pitching, and the last time I checked, [Jimenez] is a tough right-handed pitcher,” Macha said. “Corey will be in there [Tuesday night against Greg Smith].
“You guys have been around me for a year,” Macha added. “Guys who are out there producing, they’re going to get to play. It’s going to be no different than it was last year. If somebody wants to step up and get on base, .350, .360, and hit some homers and play solid defense, we’re going to give him an opportunity to play. Guys aren’t going to be buried on the bench. They’re going to be put out there and we’ll see how it works out.
“This is about production. We expect to win games. I, as a manager, will be evaluated on us winning games and I’m certainly going to put guys out there in a position where they can be successful.”
Hart politely declined to talk to reporters before batting practice on Monday. He collected four hits in exhibition games against the Tigers over the weekend but finished Spring Training with a .172 batting average.
Macha stressed that the Hart-Edmonds duo was not a straight platoon. Edmonds is slated to start again on Wednesday against Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook because of his outstanding career numbers against the sinkerballer. Edmonds is 9-for-16 against Cook with three home runs and seven RBIs.
Next up for the Brewers are the Cardinals, who will present some more interesting choices for Macha. Neither Edmonds nor Hart have good career numbers against Friday starter Kyle Lohse, but Edmonds is 5-for-15 lifetime against Saturday starter Chris Carpenter while Hart is 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. St. Louis will start youngster Jamie Garcia on Sunday.
Macha attributed much of Monday’s hub-bub about the Hart snub to the drama of Opening Day.
“Opening Day is a little over-hyped,” Macha said. “If this were the middle of the season, nobody would be asking me about Jim Edmonds.”