"He's going to play," Macha said. "But it's not going to be on an everyday basis. He had an operation, and some of the guys here have played fairly well [in Hart's absence]. It's almost like Spring Training for him."
Hart hasn't played since Aug. 1, when he went 0-for-3 at San Diego and complained of a stomach ache. When the sensation turned to pain the next morning, Brewers medical staffers sent Hart to a local hospital, where he had his appendix removed that evening.
After a month of rest, Hart was sent to Nashville for a rehabilitation assignment that coincided with the team's final four-game series of the regular season in New Orleans. Including a three-hit night Sunday in which Hart finished a triple shy of the cycle, Hart was 5-for-10 during his four games with the Sounds.
The reports of his progress have been "excellent," assistant general manager Gord Ash said Monday morning. Hart was pulled after six innings on Sunday because it was raining in New Orleans, but he played all nine innings of Nashville's season finale on Monday and went 2-for-3, scoring a pair of runs in an 8-3 win.
"The first day I know he was gassed pretty good," Ash said. "He's felt better each day and he's performed better each day."
In 98 games for the Brewers, Hart is hitting .264 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs. Frank Catalanotto, Jody Gerut and Jason Bourgeois have handled right field in his absence.
MIL: LHP Manny Parra (10-10, 6.47 ERA)
Parra pitched his best game in six weeks on Thursday in St. Louis, when he surrendered two runs on three hits in the first inning but then allowed only two more hits into the seventh. A trio of relievers helped finish that inning, leaving Parra in line for his seventh win in nine decisions since his demotion to Triple-A. It's a somewhat deceiving streak, since the lefty has a 6.09 ERA in those 10 starts. He's 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts against the Cardinals this season.
STL: RHP John Smoltz (3-6, 6.63 ERA)
Smoltz felt he was two pitches away from an excellent outing against the Brewers on Thursday. He'll get a chance to make up for those two pitches just five days later. This will be his toughest assignment yet since his return to the National League, not only facing the potent Brewers but doing so at their home park. His strikeout and walk rates have been outstanding, and if he keeps those up, he should be just fine.
Some San Francisco Giants weren't happy with the Brewers' celebration after Prince Fielder's game-winning home run on Sunday, a choreographed bit in which teammates fell backward as Fielder jumped on home plate. "Did you see that celebration?" bench coach Ron Wotus asked the San Francisco Chronicle. "You would like to think professionals would have a lot more respect for the game and their opponents." Macha said he was just as surprised. "I was shocked, standing there," he said. "But this is 2009. When a guy gets to home plate, [he] points up and beats his chest." It just happens that the Cardinals' Albert Pujols celebrates his run-scoring hits in that fashion. ... The Brewers were held to a season-low one hit by Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter on Monday. They were two-hit by Adam Wainwright and three Cardinals relievers on May 16. ... Double-A Huntsville finished its regular season with a nine-game losing streak and went 25-44 in the second half. But the team won its division title in the first half with a 38-31 mark, and is set to begin a playoff series on Thursday against Tennessee. Class A Brevard County is also playoff-bound. ... Two Brevard County players were honored for their August contributions. Right-hander Amaury Rivas was the Brewers' Minor League pitcher of the month after going 5-1 with a 2.10 ERA, and infielder Eric Farris was the system's player of the month after batting .400 (38-for-95) with 10 RBIs and 19 steals in 25 games.
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Official game notes
Wednesday: Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 6-8, 4.97) vs. Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, 17-7, 2.68), 1:05 p.m. CT
Friday: Brewers (Braden Looper, 11-6, 4.77) at Diamondbacks (TBD), 8:40 p.m. CT