MILWAUKEE -- Corey Hart and Travis Ishikawa have been trading expertise lately -- Ishikawa on playing first base, Hart on dealing with a nagging rib-cage injury. On Thursday morning, Ishikawa took his first swings since the Brewers placed him on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, but he remains a long way from reinstatement.
In Ishikawa's absence, the Brewers have called on Hart to play a significant amount of first base. It's Hart's original position, but one he has not played regularly since 2002.
"He's done great," Ishikawa said. "To go nine years in between playing there? Last year, in Triple-A, I did 10 games straight in the outfield and then went to first base. I felt uncomfortable. To go nine years, I can't even imagine what that would feel like. And he's handled himself great over there." The Brewers have resisted naming Hart the everyday first baseman, instead bouncing him between there and right field. Hart started at first on Thursday for the ninth time. Ishikawa, an above-average defender, has been there to answer the occasional question from Hart about playing first base. Hart, in turn, has relayed his experience with a strained oblique, an injury sustained in Spring Training 2011. Hart came back too early from the injury, to his detriment, so Ishikawa is trying to be patient. He somehow played through the injury for about a week before finally going on the DL on May 27. "It just got to point where I couldn't even play catch anymore without shooting pains," Ishikawa said. "After that Arizona game [on May 25], I knew when I was getting straight heaters down the middle and all I could do was foul them off. I was taking pitches, and it hurt worse to take than it did to swing, so that's when I knew I'm not doing myself or the team any favors trying to play through this."