ANAHEIM, Calif. -- While Lloyd McClendon wasn't ready to announce his first Opening Day lineup for the Mariners on Sunday, the new skipper did acknowledge that designated hitter/right fielder Corey Hart won't start against Angels right-hander Jered Weaver.
Hart was acquired in free agency to provide a needed right-handed bat and McClendon said he'll play Tuesday and Wednesday when the Angels have lefties C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago on the hill. But for now, McClendon will pick his spots for the two-time All-Star as he works to regain his health and timing at the plate.
Hart, 32, missed all of last season with Milwaukee following microfracture surgeries on both knees. The legs have held up fine this spring, but he missed a week at the end of camp due to a sore forearm and hit just .132 (5-for-38) with five walks and 18 strikeouts in 13 Cactus League games.
"Corey and I just talked," McClendon said Sunday before the Mariners worked out at Angel Stadium prior to Monday's opener. "I doubt if Corey is going to play every day right off the start. There's still some building we need to do with him. You have to look forward."
McClendon noted that the Angels and A's both have two left-handed starters scheduled to face Seattle in the first week, so those are games he'll target for Hart. That opens the door for Michael Saunders to get much of the work in right field, with Logan Morrison to likely DH against right-handers when Hart sits.
"I have to be careful how much I push him early," McClendon said. "He's OK with it. He understands that with him, I want to continue to build. If I can get 145-150 games out of him this year, I'll be very happy."
If healthy, Hart figures as a key component in the middle of the Mariners' order. He's a career .276 hitter who averaged 33 doubles, 24 home runs and 78 RBIs over his last six seasons in Milwaukee before sitting out 2013.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.