MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and other club officials continued to mull Sunday whether right fielder Corey Hart could be a permanent replacement at first base for the injured Mat Gamel. Hart was drafted as a first baseman, but has not played there regularly since 2002, and before a two-inning stint last week in New York, had not played there at all since 2006. Roenicke and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin planned to meet on Sunday morning about a variety of topics, including the potential of moving Hart back to first base.
"We've had the conversations. [Hart] is OK if we do it," Roenicke said. "I don't know if [we're] ready to do that for sure. You look at it both ways: Maybe we're a little better defensively if we do that, but not necessarily offensively. So, what do we need more of?" That's easy. Right now, the Brewers need offense. Still, the matter is up for debate, and Roenicke said there was no desire to bounce Hart between right field and first base. If he moves to first, Hart would stay there at least for the rest of this season. "That doesn't mean he couldn't go back for a game in the outfield, but if we do it, we should plan on doing it for a while," Roenicke said. Such a move would bounce Travis Ishikawa back to a reserve role. Ishikawa has been the primary first baseman since Gamel's injury and is considered a plus-defender.
That matters to Melvin, who has argued in recent weeks that first base is a much more difficult position to play than many believe. Plus, Ishikawa was productive in his first 12 starts, batting .333 (13-for-39) with four home runs and 11 RBIs.A Hart move to first would also complicate Gamel's future. With the departure of longtime first baseman Prince Fielder, this was supposed to be Gamel's big break, but he suffered a season-ending right knee injury on May 1 and will undergo surgery on Tuesday for a torn ACL. His injury means the Brewers will enter the offseason with the same questions about Gamel that existed last winter as Fielder prepared to depart. "We're not out there on a search for a first baseman," Melvin said. "There are a lot of areas on our ballclub that need to get better." One available option is left-handed slugger Adam Lind, who was reportedly placed on outright waivers by the Blue Jays on Friday. But the Brewers are probably not interested, because Lind is batting .186 and slugging .314 this season, and a team that claims him would be on the hook for the rest of his $5 million salary this season, $5 million next season and a $2 million buyout of his $7 million club option for 2014. As for Hart, he said his two-inning refresher on Tuesday against the Mets went well. It helped that it was the final innings of an 8-0 Brewers win. "If it was a close game, I might have panicked a little more than I did," Hart said.