08/01/08 7:01 PM ET
Hart back in lineup after day off
Struggling right fielder hoping rest will be helpful
By Ryan Lavner / MLB.com
"I was definitely pleased when I got here today to see my name in the lineup," said Hart, who was back in his usual fifth spot in the order for the series opener against the Braves. "A day is good. I feel fine. Sometimes a day helps."
Hart was removed from the starting lineup before Thursday's 11-4 loss to the Cubs with his struggles mounting at the plate. He said he "wasn't thrilled" about the move, but did not approach Yost to discuss the decision or when he would be reinserted.
Although he had intentions of sitting Hart another day, Yost said the decision to play him on Friday was made easier because the Braves sent left-hander Chuck James to the mound.
"If they had a righty going today, I might have given him one more day," Yost said. "But he's pretty good at whacking lefties around."
Hart is batting only five points higher (.286) against lefties this season, but anything could help break the 26-year-old out of his post-All-Star break slump.
In 12 games since playing in the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, Hart is batting just .240 with a homer, three RBIs and 11 strikeouts. His on-base percentage is a dismal .296 over that span.
The move to sit Hart on Thursday was necessitated after he went 2-for-12 with six strikeouts in the first three games of the series against the Cubs. Yost went so far as to say that Hart was "swinging at everything they throw up there."
But a day later, Yost took a lighter stance and said that Thursday's benching amounted to nothing more than a day of rest, a chance for Hart to regroup at the plate.
"Sometimes one [game] is enough," Yost said. "A lot of times it's just to give him that little break and match him up with a pitcher where he could really get back on track. He's an All-Star. He's a kid."
Ryan Lavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.