MILWAUKEE (AP) The heavy-hitting Milwaukee Brewers offense is going to be missing a big bat when the season begins.
First baseman Corey Hart is going to miss the next three to four months with an injured right knee that requires surgery, the team announced on Friday. Hart's knee started to swell up during offseason workouts, and an MRI revealed a torn meniscus and other damage to the joint that will be surgically repaired by Dr. William Raasch on Tuesday.
It's difficult timing for the two-time All-Star, who is entering the final year of his contract. Hart had one of his best seasons last year, hitting .270 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs to help the Brewers lead the National League in home runs and runs scored. He was one of five players in the lineup to hit at least 19 homers, including Ryan Braun (41), Aramis Ramirez (27), Rickie Weeks (21) and Carlos Gomez (19).
Almost as important, he helped fill a void at first base when opening day starter Mat Gamel went down with a torn ACL in his right knee in May. Hart moved from right field to first base and performed well enough defensively there to convince the Brewers to keep him in that spot heading into 2013.
Hart also had surgery on his right knee last spring to repair some damaged cartilage. He returned sooner than expected from that injury to be in the lineup on opening day and that resiliency will be tested again this year.
Hart won't be able to put any weight on his right leg for six weeks after the surgery, meaning spring training will be well under way before Hart can even begin getting on the field to do any running or working out. If he takes the full estimated recovery time of about four months, Hart may not be playing in games until late May.
Hart's injury puts Gamel back into the mix as the starting first baseman. The 27-year-old was initially being slated to be bench player for the Brewers this season while working his way back from that knee injury. He hit .246 with one homer in 21 games last season before going down on May 1. He missed the final five months of the season but is expected to be back at 100 percent when the Brewers report for spring training in February.
A fourth-round draft pick in 2005, Gamel has played in just 106 games since making his major league debut in 2008.
PITTSBURGH -- No. 1 Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright with a 66-37 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn't take big offensive efforts from Virginia's regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.
The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.
The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.
A quick start
Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.
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Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump
It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.
Ovechkin's two-goal third period
Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.