It's not like the Milwaukee Brewers turned into the Seattle Mariners just because they lost Prince Fielder. They still had some hitters. The Brewers, not the Mariners. God, not the Mariners.
But when Corey Hart went down with cartilage tears in his right knee early in spring training, suddenly the lineup looked pretty sketchy. Norichika Aoki and Carlos Gomez were going to battle for time in the outfield. Mat Gamel was going to hit fifth. Alex Gonzalez was probably going to hit sixth, and it really doesn't matter which one.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke announced this morning that rightfielder Corey Hart will open on the active roster after making a quick recovery from knee surgery early in spring training.
Suddenly Hart is back hitting fifth, and the lineup is a lot more palatable. Maybe it's just a mental thing, but the Brewers without Hart don't look like an especially fearsome group of hitters. Still expect to see a lot of Aoki, who is winding up the Cactus League on a tear, though, as the Brewers will likely want to take it a little slowly with Hart.
Sounds like quite a mess in there, actually. Hart is 29 and missed some time in 2011 (32 games) with various minor injuries. The Brewers signed Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki as something of an insurance policy had Ryan Braun been suspended for 50 games; now that Braun’s suspension has been lifted, it seems likely that Aoki will fill in for Hart if he can’t make it back by Opening Day.