Roenicke hopes Hart stays at first base
Corey Hart’s game-saving pick to end Monday’s win over the Astros was only the latest example — for a right fielder, he is a really good first baseman.
So good, that manager Ron Roenicke would like Hart to retire his outfield glove and return to first base next season.
“That’s Doug’s decision,” Roenicke said, referring to general manager Doug Melvin. “I’ve told Doug, though, that he’s a difference-maker at first base for me.
“Some, because of the way he plays, and some just because, physically, he’s huge. The other night, [Cody] Ransom throws that ball high, and when it left his hand I thought, ‘Oh, no.’ And Corey, his reach is tremendous.”
He’s the Brewers’ first big first baseman since Richie Sexson. Lyle Overbay was generously listed as 6-foot-2, and Prince Fielder at 5-foot-11. Hart, like Sexson, is 6-foot-6.
“[Hart] says, ‘Nothing’s getting by me,’” Roenicke said. “When you have that attitude, he’ll go down and block it or whatever it takes. He’s been amazing. I just wanted [Melvin] to know that.”
Keeping Hart at first base would throw back into flux the future of Mat Gamel, who was Fielder’s replacement before suffering a season-ending knee injury in May. The Brewers would either have to trade Gamel or ask him, again, to change positions; he has already been a third baseman, a corner outfielder and a first baseman.
With Hart at first, the Brewers’ could either keep Norichika Aoki in right field, or platoon Aoki and Carlos Gomez in center field and seek a hitter during the offseason to play right.
“Those [issues] still have to be talked about,” Roenicke said. “If it works out better for us all-around for [Hart] to go back to right field, then he goes back out. But I know what he’s done at first base so far, and it’s really impressive.”
Melvin declined to offer his opinion about the Brewers’ plan for next season, saying he was focused instead on winning the team’s remaining games in 2012.
Hart is signed with the Brewers through the end of next season, at a $10 million salary for 2013.
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