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Hart says he's on fast track to recovery

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MILWAUKEE -- One week after undergoing surgery to repair an injured right knee, Corey Hart told a reporter that he was already in rehab mode and was aiming to beat the projection for his return by as much as a month.

Hart underwent surgery Jan. 25 to repair a small cartilage tear and to debride the joint surface, a process in which the surgeon shaved away an imperfection and induced bleeding to begin the healing process. The Brewers projected that Hart would miss four months, pegging his return for somewhere around May 25.

But Hart, who has a history of suffering spring injuries and then beating those projections, told the Associated Press on Friday that he is aiming for April.

"If it takes a little longer then mid to end of May, but I feel good about end of April," Hart said in a text message, according to AP. "So basically like 2011, when I came back and hit 26 homers in five months."

That year, Hart strained a rib cage muscle at the start of Spring Training, did not play for the Brewers until April 26 and wound up batting .285 with 26 homers and 63 RBIs, plus two more home runs and five more RBIs in the postseason. Last year, Hart had surgery for two more significant meniscal tears but was ready by Opening Day, and batted .270 with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs.

"Corey just doesn't like Spring Training," left fielder Ryan Braun joked. "This is all part of his plan."

But missing any part of the 2013 season was not part of Hart's plan. The longest-tenured Brewer will be a free agent for the first time at season's end.

Hart told the AP he has an MRI scheduled in three weeks, the result of which will offer a clearer timetable for his return.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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