ARLINGTON, Texas — So what changed?
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said earlier this week that Corey Hart “wasn’t anywhere close” to being ready to play right field due to concerns regarding the start/stop stress on his surgically repaired knees.
And then…Hart started Thursday afternoon in right field for the first time since July 21, 2012 when the Mariners closed out a four-game series against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park.
“He told he’s feeling good,” McClendon said. “That his knees are fine. Hey, listen, I’ve got to go with my player. He says he’s feeling pretty good. But we’ll watch him. We’ll keep an eye on him.”
Hart missed all of last season while recovering from surgery on both knees, but he contends nagging soreness in his forearm and lower back have been more of a concern.
“I’d much rather play in the field than not play in the field,” he said. “I’ve got to start somewhere. I’ll go out there and see what happens. Give Robby (Cano) a break. Hopefully get out there and (have) no issues.”
Cano served as the designated hitter, which is the only duty that Hart drew until Thursday. But there’s no DH for the three upcoming weekend games in Miami, and McClendon said might spend some time at first base.
“I haven’t ruled that out,” McClendon said. “He definitely will not be playing right field in Miami.”
The outfield at Marlins Park is far more spacious than Globe Life Park. Safeco Field also sports one of the majors’ bigger acreages, so it might be a while before Hart plays right field again.
“I don’t think (McClendon) is expecting me to win any awards right now,” Hart said. “He just wants me to catch it when it’s in my direction.”