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Struggles don't concern Weeks, Hart

Weeks, Hart not concerned

PHOENIX -- Brewers slugger Prince Fielder knocked the monkey off his back on Friday night, when he clubbed his first Spring Training home run. On Saturday afternoon, it was Corey Hart's turn.

Hart, the slumping right fielder whose Cactus League batting average dipped to .200 with a second-inning strikeout against Royals righty Gil Meche, connected two innings later against Meche for a three-run homer.

It was a much-needed boost for Hart, who, like second baseman Rickie Weeks, has not had much to celebrate this spring.

"Some guys come down here feeling great right out of the gate," Hart said. "I usually take a while to get going, feeling good. Even in years I've had good springs, I never feel that good. It takes a while to get comfortable."

No worries about his slow start, Hart said.

"Obviously it's frustrating because you don't want to be 0-for-20," he said. "But at the same time, you use the spring to work on things. Get the guy over, get the guy in.

"If it were March 31, I might be worried. I have plenty of time left."

Entering Saturday's game, Weeks and Hart were hitting a combined .164 with one home run and five RBIs. Somewhat alarmingly, they had struck out 28 times in 67 at-bats, and that trend continued on Saturday when Hart and Weeks combined for five more whiffs.

That sense of alarm apparently did not creep into the manager's office.

"I really don't like it when players are hot in Spring Training," Brewers skipper Ned Yost said. "It's kind of crazy, and you can't do it -- you can't leave it down here. But you do get hot and you do get cold, and I think you're better off being cold down here and get hot [in the regular season]."

Hitting coach Jim Skaalen said he tends to agree. In about a week, though, Skaalen's outlook could change if Hart and Weeks stay cold.

"I see them gradually getting back into rhythm," Skaalen said. "In a week, if we still see them doing this, there might be even more early work going on out there. With a week going into [the regular season], they should be close to where they need to be."

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Both players will be keys to the Milwaukee offense. Weeks, who is healthy after playing through injuries in each of the last two seasons, will serve as the table-setter for what could be a top offense in the National League. Hart is likely to hit fifth, where he must be able to punish opponents who pitch around Nos. 3 and 4 hitters Fielder and Ryan Braun.

Through Saturday, when Hart led the offense with four RBIs, he is batting .216 with seven RBIs in 12 Cactus League games after hitting .294 last season with 24 homers and 23 stolen bases, making him the fifth 20-20 man in franchise history.

Weeks is batting just .132 in 12 games with one RBI and had struck out in nearly half of his at-bats (18 of 38).

"I don't care, really, about Rickie scuffling at the plate right now," Yost said. "Rickie has an idea at the plate, and as long as Rickie knows why he's scuffling, I'm OK with it."

Weeks is scuffling because he is "flying off" the ball, rotating too quickly and "trying to yank everything," Yost said.

According to Skaalen, it is a minor mechanical fix.

"He's just a too quick right now," Skaalen said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }