Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Corey Hart has been cleared to begin intensifying his rehab program.
While this is certainly good news and could mean Hart is ultimately able to return sooner than initially expected, manager Ron Roenicke said the Brewers will continue to operate under the original four-month recovery timetable. This would put the slugger back in Milwaukee's lineup by the end of May.
Hart continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. He underwent a procedure in late January to repair torn cartilage and address an imperfection in his knee joint. Bleeding was induced by the surgeon to promote bone healing.
Despite the good news, Hart continues to be weeks away from resuming baseball-related activities. Roenicke told reporters that the first baseman is now off his crutches and able to drive again.
Entering spring training, the Brewers knew they'd be without Hart following his surgery. However, they also lost his projected backup, Mat Gamel, to a season-ending injury, leaving the team especially thin at first base.
Hart hit .270/.334/.507 with 35 doubles and 30 home runs over 622 plate appearances last season. The 30-year-old owns a career batting line of .276/.334/.491 over nine seasons in the majors.