Given that Corey Hart is coming off two microfracture knee surgeries and has not played outfield on a full-time basis since 2011, there were questions over where he would line up when Spring Training began with his new Mariners club. But the two-time All-Star right fielder has jumped straight into the outfield mix in the opening days of full-squad workouts, raising the distinct possibility that he could be far more than just a solution at first base and designated hitter on a team greatly in need of some added pop in the outfield. "I feel good," Hart said Wednesday before heading out for his second day of full-team workouts. "Obviously as the spring goes, I'll be able to see how much I can do. It's still fresh. My body feels good now, so I want to make sure it stays fresh. I need to know what I can and can't do as it gets going. But so far, so good. There are no limitations. It's fun since I haven't been out there for a while." Hart skipped only sliding drills the first day, and he was held back in some of the more rigorous defensive work being conducted Wednesday by new outfield coach Andy Van Slyke, who is pushing his protégés through some twisting and turning maneuvers in tracking balls over their heads. But for the most part, it is full speed ahead for the 31-year-old slugger, whose looming 6-foot-6, 230-pound presence would be a welcome sight in the clean-up spot behind Robinson Cano. Hart averaged 29 home runs and 83 RBIs with a .279 average over his last three seasons with the Brewers (2010-12), and he brings a needed right-handed bat to a lefty-heavy Mariners lineup. "He's very important to this club," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "As we sit right now, hitting behind Robinson, if he's healthy, he should have a real big year." McClendon said he would love to see Hart able to play 145 games in the outfield this year, though he acknowledges that is the most optimistic projection. More likely, the big man will rotate between the outfield and designated hitter, with some first base possible. "I don't really care where I'm at position-wise; I'm just happy to be on a team that wants me," said Hart, who signed a one-year, $6 million deal in free agency, with up to $4.65 million in further playing time incentives. "I've only been here a week, but it's a good group and I'm excited to be part of it."
Hart hoping health holds up in outfield
MLB.com | Feb 19