Hart still waiting for green light from doctors
Free agent Corey Hart told a satellite radio audience on Tuesday that the Brewers, Rays, Red Sox and Rockies were among the clubs calling with interest, but said teams were waiting for him to get a clean bill of health before extending formal offers.
The outfielder-turned-first baseman is a free agent for the first time after sitting out the entire 2013 season. He underwent right knee surgery in January to repair a depression on the joint surface, then suffered the same injury in his left knee during rehab and had another surgery in July.
“What’s so hard right now is I don’t get cleared until Dec. 3,” Hart told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. “We have plenty of teams calling and checking in to see how I’m doing, but until the doctor says I’m 100 percent, they’re going to hold off until that time.
“It’s kind of frustrating because I’ve been 100 percent for the last month. Until I can actually get back out to [Dr. Neal ElAttrache in] L.A., I’m kind of in a holding pattern right now.”
Hart remains a top target of the Brewers, who drafted him in 2000 as a first baseman and moved him back to that position in 2012 out of need. Hart made a nearly seamless transition while hitting 30 home runs, and was supposed to return in 2013 as Milwaukee’s Opening Day first baseman.
Instead, he spent the season in the training room.
“It’s frustrating because throughout my career I haven’t really been hurt a whole lot,” said Hart, whose past injuries had mostly been limited to Spring Training. “I’ve had a few injuries here and there, but I haven’t really missed any time. It’s one of those instances where I don’t want to be punished because I had an injury year. I’m still a good player, I just had a misfortune. But I’ve worked through all that stuff and now it’s more or less just waiting to see what’s going to happen in the free agent market.”
Hart, who is represented by Jeff Berry of CAA Sports, said most of the early interest in his services has been at first base, a weakness of this year’s free agent market. But he would not rule out moving back to the outfield. Last week, CAA posted part of a video it has been sending to potential suitors, showing Hart doing agility drills.
“Whoever wants me,” Hart said. “I can still go back out there. I’ve dropped 20 pounds, so I’m able to run around better than I have in a few years. That won’t be an issue.”
Hart earned $10 million in 2013 and has acknowledged he will have to take a pay cut and re-establish his value in 2014. In September during a visit to Miller Park, he expressed a willingness to re-sign with the Brewers at a discount, saying, “I think I owe it to them to stay here and be a cheaper player, because — nobody wants to play for free — but I’ve basically sat there and watched all season. I think I owe it to them and the fans to come back.”
Hart lives with his wife and four children in Arizona, a factor that could play in his decision. Of the four interested clubs he acknowledged Tuesday, the Brewers and Rockies have Spring Training bases in the Phoenix area. The Rays and Red Sox train in Florida.
“Winning will be great, but I’m more of a family man than anything,” Hart said. “So it won’t necessarily won’t be the best fit for me; it will be the best fit for my family. … We’ll come together and figure out what the best fit is for us, and that’s where we’ll go.”
He was also asked about watching Ryan Braun’s fall from grace:
“It’s tough,” Hart said. “Anything, whether it’s an injury, drug-related, you never want to see one of your friends miss time. He was basically the face of Milwaukee for the last six years, but he’s a strong guy, a strong character. If I’m there, obviously I’ll help him in that. Hopefully, there’s good people around there who will kind of work with him. It’s going to be tough. I don’t know what he’s thinking right now, but coming back from that, it’s going to be hard to hear. Hopefully he has good people around him and if he can come through it, hopefully he’ll be stronger because of it.”
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