The Milwaukee Brewers had a “Plan B” for first base while slugger Corey Hart recovered from off-season knee surgery. That plan was to have Mat Gamel step in and play first until the Brewers’ slugger was ready to come back. Well, it’s time to crack open “Plan C,” because Gamel will reportedly be unavailable for the entire season.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Gamel suffered a tear in the ACL that he had surgically repaired last season. After suffering what was originally thought to be a minor tweak of the knee a few days ago, the Brewers confirmed today that it was a tear down the middle of the repair. He originally tore the ACL in his right knee last May while chasing a foul popup down the right-field line in San Diego. He was forced to miss the rest of 2012 while he rehabbed the knee.
Team doctors are surprised by this injury as it’s uncommon for a surgically repaired ligament to tear after the prescribed recovery and rehabilitation. In the rare instances when they do fail, they usually tear at the ends of the ligament, not down the middle, as Gamel did in this case. It’s also puzzling since he didn’t suffer a major trauma to the knee, leading to team doctors thinking it was little more than a re-aggravation of the knee, and wouldn’t force Gamel out of action for more than a couple of days.
Instead, he’s gone for the year and the Brewers have to find someone else to fill in while Hart continues to work his way back. The Brewers have players like Taylor Green, Alex Gonzalez and Bobby Crosby in camp as possible fill-ins that will get serious looks throughout Spring Training. Green is the only one of the group with any major league experience at first, staring 14 games there for the Brewers last season. Gonzalez and Crosby are both career middle infielders.
The injury to Gamel could also open the possibility that the Brewers’ address their first base needs via free agency, possibly taking a look at former Brewer Carlos Lee. The 36-year-old slugger hit 60 home runs over a season-and-a-half with Milwaukee in 2005 and 2006 and is currently available on the free agent market. He’s coming off a disappointing 2012 season, however, hitting just nine home runs between stints with the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins.
So as Spring Training opens up, the Brewers are already scrambling to find a stop-gap for their stop-gap at first base. Can they find someone who can hold on while Corey Hart works his way back?