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Hart moved to cleanup, but not to outfield

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon feels designated hitter Corey Hart is healthy enough to move into the cleanup spot now and shifted Hart into the fourth spot in place of Justin Smoak for Monday's series opener against the Rangers.

But McClendon said the team's new free agent is not close to playing right field yet, after missing all of 2013 with the Brewers following microfracture surgeries on both knees.

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ARLINGTON -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon feels designated hitter Corey Hart is healthy enough to move into the cleanup spot now and shifted Hart into the fourth spot in place of Justin Smoak for Monday's series opener against the Rangers.

But McClendon said the team's new free agent is not close to playing right field yet, after missing all of 2013 with the Brewers following microfracture surgeries on both knees.

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McClendon said Hart is "feeling pretty good from a physical standpoint" after dealing with a sore biceps late in Spring Training. His knees have held up fine to this point, but the skipper has backed off from his early spring hope that Hart could play quite a bit in the outfield.

"I'm not so sure about that one," McClendon said. "We're trying to work it, but we'll see. My biggest thing is to make sure he's healthy. It's the stopping with the knee, when he runs hard and then has to stop or cut, that's the toughest part. The arm is secondary. We'll keep working him out there and see. At some point we'll get him out there, but I don't think we're close right now."

Smoak batted cleanup in 10 of Seattle's first 11 games, but was dropped to seventh on Monday after hitting just 2-for-17 with one RBI in the five-game homestand against the Angels and A's.

"I'm just trying to get a little more power lower in the lineup, a little more balance, a little more speed up top," McClendon said. "I'm just tinkering a little bit. We got shutout and scored one run two days ago, so I'm just trying to shake it up a little bit."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.

Seattle Mariners, Corey Hart