Injured Corey Hart, Ryan Braun to be out longer than expected

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers got more discouraging news on two of their best players Tuesday, as it now appears first baseman Corey Hart and left fielder Ryan Braun won’t be returning to the lineup any time soon.

Hart, who has yet to return from right knee surgery he had in January, is headed to Los Angeles on Wednesday to get a second opinion on his left knee from Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

ElAttrache is the Dodgers’ team physician and is one of the more prominent orthopedic doctors in the country. The news on Hart is more concerning because the new development is in the opposite knee than the one he had surgery on.

“Corey’s left knee flared up some and he had some pain and had some swelling in it,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He’s going to see one of the doctors in LA to just get another opinion of what’s going on.”

Hart, 31, discovered the injury in his right knee while going through offseason workouts. In January, Brewers team physician William Raasch performed surgery to debride the right knee joint surface and repair a small meniscus tear.

At the time of the surgery, Hart’s timetable was set sometime in May. Now he’s not close to returning. The Brewers have received almost no production out of first base this season, as their first basemen hold the worst batting average in Major League Baseball at .180. Milwaukee has got just five home runs and 38 RBI out of a run-producing position.

A two-time All-Star, Hart hit .270 with 30 home runs and 83 RBI last season. He is in the final year of his contract.

“It’s hard to say,” Roenicke said of Hart’s potential return with the latest setback. “It’s disappointing to him. We’ll see.”

Braun was eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, but is nowhere near returning with an inflamed nerve in his right hand. He’s on a plan of total rest and treatment and hasn’t picked up a bat since going on the disabled list.

The plan is to have Braun grip a bat every three or four days to test his pain level. Even the hand specialist Braun saw last week doesn’t know how long it will take for his injury to clear up.

“First, we have to get this feeling good when he’s doing everything but swinging the bat,” Roenicke said. “Once that happens, we can decide like ‘Why don’t you try and swing a bat.’ There’s no timetable. It’s too hard to put any date or timetable on when he’ll be back.”

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