ST. LOUIS -- Brewers right fielder Corey Hart batted seventh for the second straight night Friday and entered the game looking very much like a player who didn't take a single Spring Training swing.
Hart was 5-for-27 (.185) in his first eight games off the disabled list after going 2-for-15 at Triple-A Nashville while rehabbing the left rib-cage strain that sidelined him all spring. Manager Ron Roenicke defended the Brewers' decision to activate Hart when they did.
"It's always a question," Roenicke said. "His timing is just not there. ... Maybe we could have kept him down longer, but some of that has to do with the player, too.
"Sometimes, they have a lot to say with this, and Corey thought he was ready. Sometimes I have to listen to the player, because I'm not inside him, I don't know what's going on upstairs."
Roenicke pointed to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who had only 11 official at-bats in the Minors before joining the Brewers (though Lucroy did play in some Minor League Spring Training games before his rehab stint). Lucroy was hitting .321 through his first 15 Major League games this season.
"So, how do you know?" Roenicke said.
With Hart struggling and fellow outfielder Nyjer Morgan on the disabled list, starting center-field duties and the second spot in the lineup looks to be Carlos Gomez's. Roenicke mentioned Lucroy as one down-the-road option to bat second, but he wants the second-year player to get more Major League at-bats before considering such a move.
"He's got a good on-base percentage, but when I say a lot of at-bats, I mean like half a year," Roenicke said. "It's not so much getting him comfortable at the plate, it's getting him comfortable with what he's doing with the pitching staff. If you put him in the second spot, it shouldn't change the way you think and the approach you have, but it does. I'd rather him just relax."