MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Corey Hart will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery on his right knee Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus, the team announced Friday.
Hart, 30, will have the procedure performed by Brewers team physician Dr. William Raasch in Milwaukee and is expected to miss three to four months, leaving the first six weeks of the regular season in doubt for the two-time All-Star.
This is the second straight spring Hart will miss due to knee surgery. Hart had a procedure to repair cartilage tears in the same knee last March but was ready in time for Opening Day.
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This time around, the Brewers won’t be as fortunate. Hart noticed swelling in his knee during offseason workouts, and an MRI revealed the need for surgery. The exact day of Hart’s return will depend largely upon how long he needs to get ready to play in the big leagues after missing spring training.
With Hart — who hit .270 with 30 home runs and 83 RBI last season — likely out for a good portion of the beginning of the season, Mat Gamel will get another chance to become Milwaukee’s everyday first baseman.
Gamel was the Opening Day starter at first base in 2012, replacing departed free agent Prince Fielder, but he suffered a torn ACL in San Diego on May 1. Needing a solution at first base, the Brewers shifted Hart from right field and the move worked out better than both sides anticipated.
Hart adapted to the defensive demands of the position so smoothly that the Brewers were intending to keep him there for the 2013 season, leaving Gamel to try to make the team in another role. Now the door is wide open again for Gamel. In 2011 for Triple-A Nashville, he hit .310 with 28 home runs and 96 RBI.
Before going down with the torn ACL in 2012, the 27-year-old hit .246 with one home run and six RBI in 21 games.
Though Gamel is an option who has potential to succeed, Hart’s loss is a big blow to a Milwaukee team that was expecting a lot out of its offense in 2013.
With a young and inexperienced rotation and a rebuilt bullpen, the Brewers’ one certainty was returning the National League’s best offense from a year ago. Now Milwaukee will have to overcome the loss of one of its most powerful bats for at least the first part of the season.