Brewers All-Star right fielder Corey Hart had a minor setback during outfield drills Saturday and said he expects to miss the original two-week projection for his recovery from a strained rib-cage muscle.
One week after he strained a muscle along his left side during a throwing exercise, Hart took fly balls at Maryvale Baseball Park on Saturday. When he made a quick turn and felt the muscle grab, he ended the session.
“I was hoping it would feel better than it did,” Hart said. “It’s not getting worse, but it’s obviously not going as fast as I would like it to go.”
Hart was hoping to be ready to resume hitting by this weekend, but instead will report back to the training room on Monday morning to, as he said, “start over.”
The Brewers originally estimated that Hart would miss about two weeks of games, putting him on track to begin Cactus League play by about March 14. That would have given him plenty of time to be ready for the team’s March 31 season-opener in Cincinnati.
Now, Hart is bracing to be out longer.
“Two weeks would have been nice,” he said. “But I think we definitely might be a little longer. I don’t know any timetable. Those things can last two weeks or a month.”
The Brewers will be cautious, manager Ron Roenicke said.
“It will be a day-to-day thing to see how much we can push him,” he said. “I still think he’s going to be ready for Opening Day. Even if it’s a week playing [Cactus League] games, I think he’ll be fine.”
If Hart misses any regular-season time, the Brewers would cover with a combination of Mark Kotsay and other back-ups. Candidates for the remaining outfield opening include 40-man roster members Chris Dickerson and Brandon Boggs and nonroster invitee Jeremy Reed.
Infielder Mat Gamel is also sidelined by a rib-cage strain, but took 25 dry swings on Sunday without incident, according to Roenicke. Gamel will take part in soft toss before advancing to regular batting practice.