PHOENIX -- You wouldn't know it by watching him but Alex Gonzalez says he is not comfortable playing first base.
"I can't tell you it's real easy," said Gonzalez, who has played 1,559 regular-season games in the majors, all at shortstop.
"You've got to make adjustments and try to have fun with it. I'm getting close, It's not like I feel real comfortable but it's getting there. The more time you play there, the more comfortable it is."
Gonzalez is playing first base out of necessity in the Milwaukee Brewers' spring camp. They already were missing Corey Hart after late-January knee surgery when Mat Gamel went down with his second torn ACL in less than a year.
Manager Ron Roenicke had a good idea that Gonzalez would be able to make the transition to first base, given an entire spring training to do so. The 36-year-old veteran was reluctant at first, but Roenicke pointed out it would give him more playing time with the Brewers who are committed to young Jean Segura at shortstop.
"That's what he says," said Gonzalez, who is using a first base mitt borrowed from Martin Maldonado . "Right now, it's learning how to play there and all the stuff at first base. You have to move around more. After many years playing shortstop, moving to first is not real fun for me.
"I'm taking a lot of groundballs there. I go out there every day and try to feel like I'm ready. I don't know what to say. I've tried to make adjustments, be relaxed and let things happen."
Roenicke said one advantage Gonzalez has in making the switch is a pair of good hands, the results of playing shortstop his entire career.
"The ground balls, that's easy. Picking balls out of the dirt, that's easy," Roenicke said. "And when I say that's easy, you either have good hands or you don't. So Alex, that part's easy for him.
"It's the positioning for when, say there's a guy at second base and you're in a position where maybe you're deep, and there's a ball hit to center field and you've got to fly in there and be a cutoff man. Kind of figuring out exactly where you are all the time.
"Holding a runner on, ball hit toward the second baseman, do I come and get that ball or is he going to get it and I've got to get back to the bag? Those take a while and games played to get comfortable with where you are. And that continues to get better as you play."
Assuming the Brewers assign first base prospect Hunter Morris to Class AAA Nashville, Gonzalez's best chance to see a lot of playing time prior to Hart's return figures to be at first base. That situation could evolve into a platoon with the right-handed-hitting Gonzalez and lefty-hitting Taylor Green .
After working so hard to learn first base, Gonzalez was asked if it feels like a day off when he goes back to shortstop in a game.
"I forget (how to play there) in a couple of days," he joked.
Gonzalez started at third base Friday in a game against Texas that was canceled by rain after four innings.
All systems go: Hart underwent an MRI on his surgically repaired right knee Friday morning, and it showed the knee is healing as expected.
Hart underwent surgery in late January to repair a defect in the cartilage.
"They liked what they saw. Corey's off crutches, can drive again. So he's a happy camper," Roenicke said following the Brewers' rainout with the Texas Rangers at Maryvale Baseball Park. "Just being able to get off the crutches and the weight-bearing part of it . . . more independent now that he gets to drive again."
In the wake of the positive report, Hart will now be allowed to rehab his knee more aggressively. The team still is anticipating him returning sometime in mid- to late May.
"Corey's not the guy that's going to go home and do a lot of crazy stuff," Roenicke said. "He'll follow the program. I'm not too concerned about that."
Also, Roenicke said Gamel had successful surgery on his right knee.
Diaz gets a look: When spring training opened, catcher Robinzon Diaz was on the minor-league side of the Brewers' training complex. But, because Jonathan Lucroy and Maldonado were committed to playing in the World Baseball Classic and would be absent simultaneously, the decision was made to bring Diaz to the big-league camp.
"I did not know I would come over here with the major-league guys," said Diaz, who signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers over the winter. "I'm so happy about that. I have an opportunity to play and show them what I can do."
Diaz, 29, who started behind the plate in the game against Texas, has 44 games of major-league experience, sprinkled among the Toronto Blue Jays (2008) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2008-'09).
That gives him a leg up on a relatively inexperienced catching corps behind Lucroy and Maldonado.
Diaz's goal is to make a big enough impression to get a shot should anything happen to one of the top two catchers.
A positive step: Kelvim Escobar, who was forced from his first and only appearance on Sunday because of hand weakness, threw what he termed a successful 25-pitch bullpen session on Thursday.
"Everything went fine," Escobar said this morning. "No signs of the weakness in my hand like it felt that first game."
Escobar was guessing the next step would be either a live batting-practice session or a simulated game.
Roenicke said there would be a determination made at some point Saturday.
Gonzalez Hart Brewers' Gonzalez getting experience at first baseYou wouldn't know it by watching him but the Brewers' Alex Gonzalez says he is not comfortable playing first base.
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