MILWAUKEE -- Free-agent-to-be Corey Hart made clear Thursday that he wants to re-sign with the Brewers and would take a significant pay cut to make that happen. He expressed optimism that the only franchise he's known will take a chance on a player coming off double knee surgery.
"I've told them I would be very generous to stay here," Hart said. "I wouldn't sit there and ask for anything that is outlandish. I would take a discount to stay here, because I think I owe it to them to stay here and be a cheaper player, because -- nobody wants to play for free -- but I've basically sat there and watched all season. I think I owe it to them and the fans to come back. That's kind of what we're hoping for, but at the same time, you don't know what's going to happen."
He added: "If it's up to me, I would stay here. I think we're leaving it up to them -- if it's something they want."
Hart's health remains the most significant question mark. He averaged 29 home runs and 83 RBIs per season from 2010-12, but missed all of 2013 after undergoing surgery on his right knee in January and surgery on his left knee in July for an issue that developed during rehab.
He has a follow-up appointment next week in Los Angeles with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Dodgers physician who performed Hart's second surgery, during which Hart expects to get clearance to begin running. He is aiming to be back in baseball shape in November, before December's Winter Meetings, so he can send video of his workouts to teams or try out for clubs interested in seeing him perform in person.
Doctors have told Hart, who will turn 32 before Opening Day, that he will make a full recovery and could play 5-6 more years if he chooses.
Hart's strong preference is to re-sign with the Brewers, who drafted him as a first baseman in the 11th round in 2000. He subsequently moved to third base, then to right field, becoming a Brewers mainstay midway through the 2006 season and making National League All-Star teams in 2008 and '10.
In 2012, Hart moved back to first base to help the Brewers overcome injury issues, and he hit 30 home runs. He earned $10 million in 2013 and was supposed to be the everyday first baseman before his knee issues arose.
"We've not really had any discussions, but I've told them numerous times that obviously I'll be healthy and I'd like to stay a Brewer and help this team out," Hart said. "They have a lot of good young players, but this team needs a veteran presence, and I'd like to be one of those guys. I've told them, and I think they want me. I just don't know where that's at. They've hinted, but it's early, and coming out of knee surgery, I'm sure they want to see me run first before they actually talk to me."
First base appears wide open for the Brewers. They traded for Juan Francisco in June and he flashed promising power, but entered Thursday in a brutal slump (seven hits in his last 56 at-bats, with 29 strikeouts). Mat Gamel is enduring a second straight season lost to ACL surgery. Budgetary restrictions could hamper a run at a free agent like Mike Napoli or Justin Morneau.
Hart dropped by Miller Park this week to visit teammates. He conceded that if the Brewers go in a different direction at first base, this could be his final visit to the home clubhouse.
"At the same time, I'm pretty optimistic I'll be back," Hart said. "That's what we're hoping for. If I'm not, I'll see these guys again, but at the same time, I'm kind of going forward as [if] I'll be healthy and I'll be back."
Roenicke won't rush Segura back
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are prepared for the possibility that All-Star shortstop Jean Segura has played the final game of a fine season.
Segura was out of the lineup as expected on Thursday, sidelined by a right hamstring strain he suffered while scoring from second base the night before. The strain is mild, but with only 10 games in 10 days left on the schedule after Thursday, time is running short.
"He's day to day. He's sore today," manager Ron Roenicke said. "And I say day to day, but that doesn't mean tomorrow. … We're not going to be dumb about this. I'd like to get him back out there, but not at the risk of putting him out there too early."
If Segura is able to play again, it might be during the team's final series against the Mets in New York.
Or, he could report for duty on Friday feeling great, Roenicke said.
Segura's injury could cost him a chance to be the first Brewer to lead the National League in stolen bases since Scott Podsednik in 2004. Segura has 44 steals this season, five more than the Mets' Eric Young Jr. entering Thursday. Carlos Gomez was fourth on that list with 36 steals.
Segura is batting .296 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs, though he's hit just .245 with one home run since representing the Brewers in the All-Star Game.
"He should [be happy] with the bases, the defense," Roenicke said. "The only thing is, he is going to get better driving in runs. I'm not satisfied, he's not satisfied with where he is on that. If you're strictly a leadoff batter, it's different, because your opportunities are less, but he was second in the lineup this year and he's had some opportunities."
Jeff Bianchi played shortstop in place of Segura on Thursday. Yuniesky Betancourt is also an option while Segura is down.
• The Brewers on Thursday claimed right-hander Josh Ravin off waivers from the Reds. To make room for Ravin, they designated catcher/first baseman Blake Lalli for assignment. Ravin, a fifth-round Draft pick of the Reds in 2006, had an ERA over 5.00 in each of the past three seasons, but he is a hard thrower in the Joe Nathan mold who touches triple digits at times. The Brewers view him as a change-of-scenery candidate, and have had success with more "advanced" pitchers in recent seasons (John Axford, Jim Henderson ). Ravin -- pronounced like the black bird -- will be 26 in January.
• Outfielder Khris Davis was available to pinch-hit on Thursday, but did not start because of lingering weakness in his left wrist, according to Roenicke.
"I told him I want him to play when he feels right," Roenicke said. "We saw a few swings yesterday -- he gets fatigued at the end of games."
• The Brewers are exploring ways to limit the effect of shadow and glare at Miller Park, and four different window tints were installed in test areas before this homestand. One of the samples is effective during day games, but too reflective at night and could create a new problem. None of the samples are ideal, according to Roenicke.
• Hart identified one positive to an otherwise dismal year.
"I've never really missed extended time before, [so] I really got to sit back and see how blessed I am," Hart said. "A lot of players don't get to see that until they're done. They don't get to be with their family because they're always busy. I got to have a summer with my kids. I'm rehabbing every day, but I'm done early enough that I get to do things I would have never been able to do.
"It's been up and down, because I love being able to spend time and do things I don't normally get to do. At the same time, I miss the competitiveness."