PITTSBURGH -- Brewers outfielder Corey Hart, out with a strained left oblique, took batting practice in the batting cages with the Brewers on Tuesday and Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

He took another big step on Thursday, when he took batting practice on the field at PNC Park for the first time.

"That will be nice to see," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "He's going to do that for a few days, and then if everything goes well, he'll be ready to go out on a rehab assignment."

Morgan carving out a niche with Brewers

PITTSBURGH -- Speedy outfielder Nyjer Morgan looks like he has found a home with the Milwaukee Brewers. He has appeared in all 12 games this season -- including five starts -- and is batting .472, with two RBIs and one stolen base.

Morgan has bounced from Pittsburgh to Washington in his career, and was acquired from the Nationals on March 27 for infielder Cutter Dykstra.

He had fallen out of favor with the Nationals for a series of instances in which he lost his temper, including a bench-clearing brawl with the Marlins last September. Morgan was suspended eight games and fined $15,000 for his role in the scuffle.

Morgan is thrilled to be with the Brewers, and put all of the controversy behind him.

"There is just good chemistry here, and everybody gets along" he said. "That's what you need to have a great ballclub and to succeed. Our goal is to reach the playoffs. It starts from having a good skipper. And when you have a good skipper -- and he brings his personality into the locker room that's full of energy and has a great atmosphere -- that's a piece of the puzzle that people don't realize."

Morgan and his aggressive style have paid early dividends. In Wednesday night's 6-0 win over the Pirates, Morgan came on as a pinch-runner in the seventh inning and scored on a double by Yuniesky Betancourt -- barreling over Bucs catcher Ryan Doumit in the process.

"It's a part of the game," Morgan stated. "You've just got to go hard. I only know one way to play, and that's to play the game right, and to play the game hard and leave it all on the field."

"So far, Morgan has brought everything," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's brought great defense and great baserunning, and he's hitting .450 [going into Thursday's game], so he's done everything for us. You have to see a guy over the course of a year and what he does, but we always know he's going to play good defense -- and we always know he's going to be a good baserunner. The hitting part, sometimes you have better years than others. I, obviously, don't think if we play him every day he's going to hit .450, but he's been huge for us."

Lucroy catches Wolf against Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Jonathan Lucroy was behind the plate catching lefty Randy Wolf in Thursday night's game with the Pirates. Last year, Wolf and Lucroy didn't appear to be on the same page -- and Lucroy rarely was the catcher when Wolf pitched.

"I know they talked a lot in Spring Training," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke explained. "I brought it to both their attentions -- and they need to try to work it out, because Lucroy is going to be our catcher. I don't want to go through a season where he can't catch Wolf, so I think they did a good job of communicating through the spring.

"It was unfortunate that Lucroy wasn't able to physically catch him, so I'm hoping that all the conversations they had -- that today they can work it out and be on the same page."

Hawkins takes positive step in rehab

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, who is on the 15-day disabled list recovering from surgery on his right shoulder, threw a scoreless inning for Class A Brevard County on Wednesday in his rehab assignment.

"Good reports, good velocity," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's going to take a couple of days, and then he'll go to Nashville and pitch there, but he's close."

Hawkins was placed on the disabled list on March 26.

Worth noting

Outfielder Jeremy Reed, designated for assignment on Monday when catcher Jonathan Lucroy came off the 15-day DL, accepted an outright assignment to Nashville on Wednesday. ... The Brewers are facing a shortstop shortage in their Minor League system. Triple-A Nashville shortstop Edwin Mayoset strained his right hamstring and will probably be placed on the 15-day disabled list. Nashville has lost third baseman/shortstop Zelous Wheeler because of a sprained right knee, and he is expected to miss six weeks. Journeyman Anderson Machado is currently playing shortstop for Nashville. The Brewers are pursuing a Minor League trade for a shortstop.