Hart secure with Brewers after big season
Corey Hart’s spring has been far from perfect, with a rib injury
limiting him in camp.
Of course, he’s just been thankful this season that his role is
A year ago, Hart won his arbitration case for $4.8 million only
to have a miserable month that had him wondering if he’d be traded
or released from the only organization he’s played for.
While Hart had earned $4.4 million in his career before the
arbitration case, the salary wasn’t guaranteed. Without a college
education, he worried about how he’d provide for his four children
and wife if his baseball career ended with a sudden thud.
”I was able to go home and my kids were able to lighten the
mood. That helps not being too down about it. At the same time, you
go home, look in the mirror and be like, ‘What am I going to do?”’
Hart said. ”You can say we make a good living, but at the same
time, I don’t have any other skills. So if I’m not in the big
leagues, I’m kind of looking at it like I need to figure this out
for my kids.”
Hart turned it around, posting strong enough numbers to reach
the All-Star game and eventually be rewarded with a new $26.5
million, three-year contract.
This spring, Hart strained a muscle in his left ribcage early in
training camp. He’ll likely begin the season on the disabled list,
but is expected to be a major contributor for a team with playoff
A year ago, Hart was batting poorly and it turned out that his
vision was a problem. He tried wearing contacts and glasses, but
abandoned them without telling the team.
”That was such a distraction. The thing is, my eyes aren’t that
bad. And then it came out and I’m like, ‘I don’t really need
glasses,”’ Hart said. ”I knew I wasn’t going to wear them because
I was going to fail as me. I wasn’t going to let that be a
Hart began working extensively with hitting coach Dale Sveum and
began laying off the type of pitches that always used to get him in
trouble – sliders down and away.
Still, the numbers didn’t show much improvement early in the
season. After six weeks, Hart was batting .247 with three homers
and 12 RBIs.
”I’ve always been a hard worker in the gym stuff and I worked
my swing, but I don’t know if it was necessarily the right way. I
wasn’t doing it the right way,” Hart said. ”We found a good
rhythm, a good little schedule and it got better.”
Hart homered against Philadelphia on May 15 and did it again the
next day before a road trip to Cincinnati. He hit two more in the
series opener against the Reds on his way to 11 homers in 68
Two weeks later, Hart’s improvements paid off in bigger ways
with a 20-game hitting streak that began against the Los Angeles
Angels, where new Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke was the bench coach
at the time.
”Corey Hart went off,” Roenicke remembers. ”They just
Hart hit .360 over the 20 games with two homers and 17 RBIs by
staying patient. His patience paid off in negotiations, too.
The Brewers agreed to the three-year contract extension through
2013 a few weeks later, the biggest reward for the former
11th-round pick in 2000.
”It’s very stressful trying to deal with what happened last
year and all of a sudden, I’ve got this offseason, it’s hard to
explain, it’s so stress free and relaxed and I was able to step
back and look at what happened and do my own thing this year,” he
It’s all the more gratifying for him that he did it himself and
didn’t take an easy way out by whining or demanding a trade last
”It was a learning experience more than anything. You looked at
how things could’ve played out,” he said. ”Pressure’s tough.
Everything can get to you. To be able to fight through that, I
thought it was pretty cool I could bounce back like that.”