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Brewers scramble to find third-string first baseman

The SportsXchange

It didn't take long for the Milwaukee Brewers to get to Plan C at first base.

In the first full-squad workout of spring training, Mat Gamel felt something wasn't right in his right knee, and he headed back to the trainer's room. An MRI the next morning revealed a tear of the same anterior cruciate ligament that was repaired less than a year ago, an injury that cost him most of the 2012 season.

Just like that, Gamel's season was over before it began. Making matters worse, he was the scheduled fill-in for Corey Hart, who had knee surgery in late January and is expected to miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

"It was shocking to say the least," said Gamel, who suffered the first ACL tear early last May in a game in San Diego. "It wasn't like I went down or anything. It's not like it was even something that I thought would be this.

"I thought maybe there was something in there because it didn't feel right, but it was the last thing I would have expected."

Left to scramble to fill the position until Hart returns, the Brewers said they would look internally first. Veteran utility players Bobby Crosby and Alex Gonzalez are going to see action there in camp, as will young utility man Taylor Green.

First baseman Hunter Morris, the 2012 Player of the Year in the Double-A Southern League, also will get a chance to show what he can do, though the jump to the big leagues would be a big one.

"We'll look at all the guys we have in camp here," general manager Doug Melvin said. "Hunter had a very good year last year in Double-A. We'll look at them early in games here and determine that later.

"We're still hoping Corey Hart is back here in a certain period of time during the year."

Green started 14 games last season at first base for the Brewers, and Crosby played some games at that position for Oakland in 2009 and for Pittsburgh in 2010. Gonzalez has never played anywhere but shortstop in the majors.
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