Hart set to get back on the bump


BRADENTON, Fla. — Kevin Hart is the exception to the “no-throw” approach this week at minicamp.

For most of the three dozen or so players at Pirate City, the focus will be on strength and conditioning. New guys like Lyle Overbay and Matt Diaz have the extra chore of learning who’s who. “That’s the hardest part, because I’m terrible with names,” Overbay said, smiling.

Hart, however, will throw a brief bullpen session sometime this week. It will be his first time on the pitcher’s mound since May, when he had surgery to repair a torn labrum.

Later today, Hart will sit down with coaches and trainers to evaluate his rehab and plot his return to regular activity. “If everything goes perfect, no setbacks or anything in the next few weeks, I should be ready to go at the start of spring training,” Hart said.

Losing all of last season to the injury also caused Hart to lose his role as a starting pitcher. When he does return, it will be as a reliever.

»»» Evan Meek laughed as he dropped off two boxes of donuts in the coaches’ room this morning. “None for me,” said Meek, who is visibly trimmer than he was last year.

»»» Overbay, Steve Pearce and Josh Fields took grounders at first base on Field 3. Pearce is moving well and seems to have fully recovered after having his left knee scoped in August.

»»» Almost everyone on the list of expected attendees was in camp today. Garrett Jones (who will arrive Wednesday) and Andrew McCutchen (Thursday) will be late arrivals due to prior commitments.

»»» Today marked the first time new manager Clint Hurdle worked out with the players. Drills were held for about three hours on all four full fields under mostly sunny skies. “It was a good day,” Hurdle said. “It was efficient. We were able to get on the field, move them around a little bit, work on some technique and play a little defense. There was some on-field hitting. It’s good to get back on the field and hear the crack of the bat and the smack of the ball in the mitt.”

»»» I posted a lot of pictures from camp today via my Twitter account (@RobBiertempfel) and hope to get a few more up tomorrow.