GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Brewers expect to play with Hart on Opening Day. Right fielder Corey Hart received medical clearance Monday to re-join the Brewers' big leaguers for exhibition games against the D-backs on Tuesday and Wednesday at Chase Field. He is scheduled for seven innings on Tuesday night, seven more on Wednesday afternoon, and, barring a setback with his surgically repaired right knee, he will be in right field when the Brewers start the regular season on Friday against the Cardinals. "He's ready," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's actually pretty excited about it. Today, he woke up and came in and feels great."
Hart played Wednesday through Sunday in Minor League games, preserving the option of a backdated stint on the 15-day disabled list. The Brewers would forfeit that option if Hart appears in the Cactus League, so they are convinced he is ready for Opening Day.
Hart will be four weeks post-op on Tuesday. He had surgery March 6 to repair two cartilage tears in his right knee, and the Brewers predicted a 3-5 week rehabilitation. Using that time frame, Hart is coming in right on schedule. "He pushed it," Roenicke said. "He got out there and got after it with the idea he would like to be ready for Opening Day. He would have been OK if we thought it was better as far as going to Triple-A for a few days, but he's pretty happy about [breaking camp in the Major Leagues]. Anytime you work hard, you want things to go well, and I think this went well." Having Hart will be a boost for the Brewers, who are counting on him to bat fifth this season. That is a key spot in the batting order considering the Brewers have a new cleanup hitter, Aramis Ramirez, who is tasked with replacing some of the production lost when Prince Fielder left via free agency. With Shaun Marcum (shoulder stiffness) slated to pitch Wednesday's spring finale against Arizona, the Brewers could begin the season at full strength. That's a big change from last year, when Hart, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, starter Zack Greinke and relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Manny Parra all began the season on the disabled list. Roenicke said circumstances would dictate the extent of Hart's playing time in the early part of April.