Hart hopes to spur extension talks

(AP Photo/Dave Einsel)

The longest-tenured player in the Brewers organization instructed his agent to pass a message to the club’s front office before the nonwaiver Trade Deadline: Corey Hart wants to stay, no matter what position he plays.

Hart asked agent Jeff Berry communicate to general manager Doug Melvin that Hart was open to a permanent switch to first base, a position he adopted out of need this season, or a move back to right field, his position on Opening Day. Hart hoped that olive branch might spur discussions about an extension beyond his current contract, which expires after 2013.

“Hopefully, it will overlap and start something,” Hart said. “I’ve never been in this position, so I don’t know what their plan is. They could obviously trade me in the offseason, but I want to stay around. Hopefully, they want me to stay around for more than next year.”

Hart has made a smooth transition back to first base, his position when the Brewers drafted him in the 11th round in 2000, but one he had not played regularly since 2002. The Brewers had a need after first baseman Prince Fielder departed via free agency and Fielder’s replacement, Mat Gamel, suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Tuesday marked Hart’s 68th start this season at first base.

“It’s still a work in progress; I still catch myself on certain plays saying, ‘I should have done this,’” Hart said. “It hasn’t happened a lot. I’ve actually lost 10 pounds since going over there. I was so nervous, basically, so focused on every play — I was squat, squat, squat, running back and forth. I’ve adapted to it. I think I was so worried about being on time, being in the right spot.”

Now he feels comfortable there. Manager Ron Roenicke is already on record as saying he would like to keep Hart at first base in 2013, but the plan will depend on what opportunities meet the Brewers in offseason trades or free agency.

Hart, who entered Tuesday batting .267 with 23 home runs and 64 RBIs, will earn $10 million in 2013, the final season of a three-year extension he initiated before the 2010 nonwaiver Trade Deadline. Two years later, he is again going public with his desire to stay.

“I really like it here,” Hart said. “My family likes it, I like it, I’ve always been here. I would definitely like to stay.”

Hart conceded that negotiations, if they ensue, would be a matter for the offseason.

“At least they know, and if they come back [with an offer], they come back,” Hart said.

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Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

 

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