MILWAUKEE With a Tuesday return date in mind, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Corey Hart tested his injured foot by running the bases on Sunday morning, and the result wasn't what he had hoped for.
Affecting the arch of his left foot, Hart's plantar fascia injury limits his ability to make turns around the basepaths without serious discomfort. He said on Sunday that he would be OK when it came to running in straight lines, but he wasn't sure he wouldn't hamper the Brewers lineup more than help if he returned.
"I've played through a lot of injuries and stuff, but it's one of those things where, if I'm on first, I'm not going to be able to score on a double," Hart said. "If I'm on second, it's iffy. Is it worth it to these guys? I feel like I wouldn't be able to do everything I needed to do."
Still, Hart is hoping for the best, which at this point would be a return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Pirates.
"I'm aiming for Tuesday, but I just wish it felt better today than it did," Hart said. "It's frustrating. Today is the first day I've tried to run the bases and it didn't go as planned."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is hoping for the same, but he's realistic about the possibilities of Hart playing that soon. Considering how nagging a plantar fascia injury is, the reality is that Hart's status could be decided next week or drag out for the remainder of the season.
"We're still going to shoot for Tuesday, but I don't know that that's probably a possibility," Roenicke said. "I don't know. In two days, I don't know."
Lucky for the Brewers, replacement first baseman Travis Ishikawa has been a very capable fill-in during Hart's absence, batting .375 since Hart's injury. He's also been impressive in the clutch, knocking in five RBI in a span of just 16 at-bats in that period.
But even with Ishikawa playing at a high level, Roenicke knows how important Hart's bat is to the lineup. With the most important road trip of the season coming up, the thought of missing a 27-home run, 77-RBI bat in the lineup is a daunting one.
"We have (gotten production)," Roenicke said. "The thing is ... it's having Corey hitting behind Aramis (Ramirez). When you have those first five guys in the lineup it's huge because then it pushes (Jonathan Lucroy) to sixth or (Martin Maldonado) to sixth, but when you don't have them there, you have Ishikawa fifth, Maldy sixth -- it changes the look of the bottom part of that lineup. Even as well as Ishikawa has done, it still changes."
Hart mentioned the possibility of getting an anti-inflammatory shot to help with the pain, but even that carries some risk of worsening the injury. Anxious to get back in the lineup, Hart didn't seem worried about the risks, which the Brewers staff is mulling over as a potential option.
"We have the offseason coming," Hart said. "I'd rather force it and not be able to move really good for the first month of the offseason than right now."
For now though, the Brewers will deal with Sunday's setback. But could it mean that Hart's injury is worse than expected? Roenicke wouldn't rule out the possibility that Hart's injury could potentially end his season.
"I think that's always a possibility," Roenicke said. "I know he sure wants to get out there and we'll see. I think we'll know a lot more on Tuesday, Wednesday, somewhere in there, how long it's going to be. Who knows, maybe ... he'll be okay."
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