By Brent Stecker
The Mariners’ 2013 offseason has been one of bold moves.
Obviously the massive signing of Robinson Cano is the most noteworthy, but the addition of first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart on a one-year, $5 million, incentive-laden contract this week is deserving of attention.
Mariners’ signing Corey Hart hit 30 home runs in his last season, but that was in 2012, as he missed the entire 2013 season with knee injuries. (AP)
That’s mainly because of how Hart comes to Seattle. His last season was a strong one — he hit .270 with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs — but that was in 2012, because microfracture surgery on both of his knees held him out for the entirety of 2013.
Hart, 31, knows his injury history raises a lot of eyebrows, but as he told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” on Friday, he’s done a lot of work to get back into playing shape, and he’s feeling as good as ever.
“I’m feeling great. I’ve been rehabbing constantly since obviously it happened,” he said. “I’ve been basically full baseball activity the last month. Even though I missed a year, it’s not like I’m coming off a bad year. My confidence is high and I’m excited to get back out there and show these fans they got a good player.”
The 6-foot-6 Hart knew he had his work cut out for him convincing teams that he was worth pursuing after his surgeries.
“Being a free agent coming off an injury, I had to basically prove to all these teams that you’re not getting an injured player. When you get me, you’re gonna get me and I can go out there and play,” he said.
One would expect Hart to be limited to first base or designated hitter duties considering his knee problems, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
“Initially I thought for sure I would just be either playing first or DH, but then my process started kinda getting stronger, and my body started feeling better,” Hart said. “I lost 25 pounds — that helped obviously my knees. Then I started running around, I started realizing that with the extra weight off and the shape that I was in, that I could actually go back out there.
“I started doing things in front of scouts, in front of teams that basically show that I’m ready to go out there if I need to go out there. I talked to (Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik), and I’m not sure where I’ll be mostly, but they know if I need to play outfield, I can definitely go out there and play. Obviously I’m not gonna win a Gold Glove, but I can go out there and if the ball’s at me I’m gonna catch it and I’ll run it down.”