Corey Hart's Wife to Give Birth in Final Weeks of Season
PHOENIX (AP) -- Corey Hart likely will have more on his mind at the end of this season than the last one.
While that might not bode well for the Brewers right fielder who sizzled in the summer before slumping in September, at least he's already prepared.
His wife, Kristina, is due to have their fourth child in the final two weeks of the season. But if his year is anything like the last one, Milwaukee will be in the thick of the postseason chase.
This time, they hope Hart can contribute at the plate.
Hart hit .289 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs to make his first All-Star appearance after winning the fan vote for the final spot, but Hart began to struggle soon after, culminating with a miserable final month of the season.
In September, he hit .173 with no homers and 10 RBIs and struck out 21 times compared to just three walks.
"My body was just drained and tired," Hart said. "I wasn't used to being out there that much. It's the most I'd played, 100 more at-bats than I'd ever had. I was worn down. Physically, I didn't prepare for that kind of season."
Hart had 612 at-bats, tops on the team, and played in 157 games, both easily the highest in his career at any level since being drafted in 2000.
While Hart was tired, manager Ned Yost and interim manager Dale Sveum, now the hitting coach, couldn't rest him when it was obvious he needed it because Gabe Kapler hurt his shoulder on Sept. 10 and didn't play the rest of the season or the playoffs when Milwaukee, the NL wild card, was eliminated by Philadelphia.
"I was pressing," Hart said. "I was trying to find it and of course, I was a starter and didn't want to come out of the lineup. It's one of those things, you work in the offseason physically and mentally. I just didn't quite get it done last year and that's why I had a stronger offseason conditioning program to make sure I don't wear down like I did last year."
New Brewers manager Ken Macha raves about the natural arc on Hart's swing and potential power it could provide. Hart has speed, too. He's the only player in team history to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in two different seasons.
But the last arbitration eligible player on the team to sign needs to regain the plate discipline that plagued him down the stretch. It's no secret that he'll chase sliders away when pitchers get ahead of him and he isn't taking nearly as many pitches as early in his career.
"I was focused (last season), but I was trying to find something that wasn't there," Hart said. "I've been working with Dale -- new hitting guy, new philosophy -- working on my approach and trying to refine it."
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said Hart will learn from his experience in September. Hart is one of the names mentioned for a potential long-term deal in Milwaukee and Hart readily says he loves the team and wants to stay there.
"You just have to make adjustments," Melvin said. "They were pitching him differently in September, but one of the things was that other guys weren't hitting, too. If other guys are hitting, then you get different pitches. They threw a lot of sliders to him in September. If men were on base, he may not get those same breaking balls. He'll have to adjust. He's young enough to adjust."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Notes:@ The Brewers made their first major cuts on Sunday, sending RHP Tim Dillard and RHP Nick Green to Triple-A Nashville, RHP Omar Aguilar and RHP Alex Periard to Double-A Huntsville, RHP Mark Rogers to Single-A Brevard County and RHP Cody Scarpetta to Single-A Wisconsin. ... Brewers reliever Todd Coffey dyed his hair black, but kept his goatee red. Fellow reliever Jorge Julio nicknamed him "Black Coffey" and joked his teammate did it to no longer be confused with fellow tall, redheaded right-hander Seth McClung.