MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and other club officials continued to mull Sunday whether right fielder Corey Hart could be a permanent replacement at first base for the injured Mat Gamel.Hart was drafted as a first baseman, but has not played there regularly since 2002, and before a two-inning stint last week in New York, had not played there at all since 2006. Roenicke and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin planned to meet on Sunday morning about a variety of topics, including the potential of moving Hart back to first base. "We've had the conversations. [Hart] is OK if we do it," Roenicke said. "I don't know if [we're] ready to do that for sure. You look at it both ways: Maybe we're a little better defensively if we do that, but not necessarily offensively. So, what do we need more of?" That's easy. Right now, the Brewers need offense. Still, the matter is up for debate, and Roenicke said there was no desire to bounce Hart between right field and first base. If he moves to first, Hart would stay there at least for the rest of this season. "That doesn't mean he couldn't go back for a game in the outfield, but if we do it, we should plan on doing it for a while," Roenicke said. Such a move would bounce Travis Ishikawa back to a reserve role. Ishikawa has been the primary first baseman since Gamel's injury and is considered a plus-defender.
That matters to Melvin, who has argued in recent weeks that first base is a much more difficult position to play than many believe. Plus, Ishikawa was productive in his first 12 starts, batting .333 (13-for-39) with four home runs and 11 RBIs.A Hart move to first would also complicate Gamel's future. With the departure of longtime first baseman Prince Fielder, this was supposed to be Gamel's big break, but he suffered a season-ending right knee injury on May 1 and will undergo surgery on Tuesday for a torn ACL. His injury means the Brewers will enter the offseason with the same questions about Gamel that existed last winter as Fielder prepared to depart. "We're not out there on a search for a first baseman," Melvin said. "There are a lot of areas on our ballclub that need to get better." One available option is left-handed slugger Adam Lind, who was reportedly placed on outright waivers by the Blue Jays on Friday. But the Brewers are probably not interested, because Lind is batting .186 and slugging .314 this season, and a team that claims him would be on the hook for the rest of his $5 million salary this season, $5 million next season and a $2 million buyout of his $7 million club option for 2014. As for Hart, he said his two-inning refresher on Tuesday against the Mets went well. It helped that it was the final innings of an 8-0 Brewers win. "If it was a close game, I might have panicked a little more than I did," Hart said.
Gomez returns to crowded outfield
MILWAUKEE -- Outfielder Carlos Gomez returned to the Brewers' active roster right on schedule on Sunday, after being placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier this month with a left hamstring injury.Gomez played three games in the outfield and one at designated hitter for Class A Wisconsin while on a rehab assignment, going 2-for-13 with one home run.
Upon his return, the 27-year-old outfielder did some work on the basepaths before Sunday's game against the Twins and said he felt good."Today, we did some practice like it's the game, like steal bags, slide and come back to first, things like that," Gomez said. "I'm ready to be part of the team again and bring positive stuff." Before injuring the hamstring on May 4 against the Giants, Gomez was hitting .280 with five RBIs and a home run. He comes back to a club searching for a spark on offense, and he said he's ready to help in any way he can. Manager Ron Roenicke said he considered starting Gomez on Sunday in center field, where Milwaukee now has a logjam with Gomez, Nyjer Morgan and Norichika Aoki. "That's going to be a problem," Roenicke said. "But it's not necessarily a bad problem, because they're doing well enough that I want to play them all. Which is good, but it's going to be hard."
Melvin remains on the search for shortstops in the wake of Alex Gonzalez's season-ending knee injury, but the possibility of adding veteran Edgar Renteria appears a dead end. Melvin recently contacted Renteria's agent and was told that player intends to remain retired. Second baseman Rickie Weeks was out of the lineup on Sunday, a day after an 0-for-5, four-strikeout game against the Twins that dropped his average to .154. For the first time, Roenicke connected Weeks' ongoing slump to the left hand injury he suffered May 11 when Weeks was hit by a pitch. "The hand still isn't 100 percent," Roenicke said. "He usually is really adamant on telling me, 'No.' But I explained some things to him [about why Sunday was a good day to take a break] ... and he was, 'Hey, you're the manager, if you want to do that, I'm OK.'" Roenicke also opted to give third baseman Aramis Ramirez a rare day off, only Ramirez's second this season. It cost Ramirez at-bats against Twins starter Jason Marquis, against whom Ramirez is 10-for-27 with two home runs. "I have to think more about taking care of the guys to make sure that, physically, they're OK to continue on the long season," Roenicke said. The Brewers released Minor League right-hander Seth Lintz, a second-round Draft pick in 2008. He had a 7.11 ERA over parts of five seasons.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.