Last week, manager Lloyd McClendon said that the “best-case” scenario for Corey Hart with the Seattle Mariners in 2014 would be for the newly signed free agent to play 145 games in right field. Hart backed up those expectations by saying he feels 145 games is a realistic goal for himself in his first season in the Pacific Northwest. Both of them, with all due respect, are crazy for setting expectations that high for Hart this season.
While McClendon and Hart feel that 145 games is not a big deal, it’s a lot of games to play in one season. Especially when you consider that Hart has only played that many games in the outfield in a season one time in 2008 when he started 156 games in right field for the Milwaukee Brewers. He came close again in 2010 when he logged 141 games in right field, but hasn’t played in more than 126 games in any other season during his career.
Add in the fact that Hart is coming off surgery on both knees that kept him out for the entire 2013 season, and you start to see just how crazy the idea of counting on him for 145 games this season will be. Hart has shown a tendency to break down over the normal wear and tear of a season, requiring time off from time to time (as most players do). Now he’s coming back from knee surgery, which has him at day-to-day status during spring training with “a little” tenderness in the knees, and it becomes clear that Hart likely won’t be playing the iron-man role for Seattle anytime soon.
That isn’t to say that Hart won’t be an important piece of the Seattle lineup this season. The team is relying heavily on his bat to provide a bit of protection for Robinson Cano in 2014 and will need him to play as much as possible. Whether that’s in right field, first base, or as the designated hitter, Seattle needs Hart to be in the lineup. They just shouldn’t count on him being out in the field for 145 games this year.