BALTIMORE — Corey Hart stepped forward and made the decision easy for manager Lloyd McClendon.
With James Paxton, the starting pitcher Saturday, being activated from the 60-day disabled list, McClendon and the Mariners had to open a spot on the 25-man and 40-man roster to make room.
Before the game Friday, McClendon hinted he likely would send a reliever to Class AAA Tacoma. But that changed when Hart came to McClendon, admitting his right knee was bothering him to the point of being unable to play. So instead of a pitcher being optioned to Tacoma, Hart was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee contusion. To make room on the 40-man roster, Blake Beavan was outrighted to Tacoma and removed from the 40-man roster after clearing waivers.
Hart injured the knee Thursday in Cleveland while trying to make a leaping catch and crashing into the wall at Progressive Field.
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“He hurt it pretty good, but he didn’t say anything because he wanted to stay in the lineup,” McClendon said. “But yesterday he hit a ball right on the nose to center field and he realized he had no legs under him. He went in and talked to the trainers. This is probably the best course of action for him.”
Hart said the knee felt awful after falling on the warning track in Cleveland, but he tried to play through it.
“I still wanted to try to play,” he said. “I kept trying to right it. It got to the point where I was tired of hitting balls that don’t go anywhere because I didn’t have any legs. That put it over the top. I probably shouldn’t have played yesterday, but I was hoping I could find it.”
But the knee issue was just an overall topper to lingering issues with his legs — they haven’t been there for a while now. He missed 42 games with a strained left hamstring. He came back July 3 and has never quite felt the same. The legs have never been solid under him. When he would play in the field, he was sore and hobbled the next day.
“I’ve been trying to give myself false hope,” he said. “The legs were never there. Right now I’m not competitive. It’s because I haven’t had the legs to help me. Hopefully these guys can get it fixed pretty quick. I’d love to get back and be competitive for the last month. But I don’t want to come back and do what I’ve been doing.”
Hart was hitting .191 (13 for 68) with three doubles and three RBI in 21 games since returning.
“He really didn’t complain until last night,” McClendon said. “He’s a proud guy. He probably just figured he couldn’t go any further.”
• The Mariners will go with a shortened bench and an eight-man bullpen until the interleague series in mid-August when they travel to Philadelphia. Ideally, they’d have Willie Bloomquist, who is on the disabled list with a bruised knee, back for that series. But McClendon doesn’t think that will happen. “We’ll see,” he said. “My understanding his progress is not happening as quickly as (they) initially thought it would be.”