J.J. Hardy, who sat out Friday’s game because of “light lower back spasms,” was back in the lineup Saturday, playing shortstop and hitting sixth.
He said he dealt with the spasms for two days and just wanted to get themresolved. He believes the rest helped greatly – especially because he didn’t have to deal with wet and cold conditions Friday at Comerica Park. It’s cold again here – the ballpark scoreboard says 38 degrees – but it is clear.
“Definitely, a lot (better),” said Hardy, who missed two games last year with back spasms. “I think it was a smart move considering the conditions and everything yesterday and what I was feeling the days before.”
Hardy said he dealt with the back twinges in 2009 in Milwaukee and has been doing exercises and stretches ever since to combat them. These spasms – which began Wednesday and carried into Thursday – were much less severe.
“It could have turned into a two-week thing, and so it probably was the smart thing to do, take yesterday off,” Hardy said.
Infielder Ryan Flaherty, who began last season in an 0-for-17 skid with nine strikeouts, started the Orioles’ first four games this year and is hitless in 15 at-bats with seven strikeouts.
So he’s getting the day off.
“Obviously, no one wants to start the season 0-for, you want to help the team,” Flaherty said. “When you are not helping the team, it's no fun."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said part of the reason Flaherty is out of the lineup is to get Jonathan Schoop another start at third base and one against a righty. But Flaherty’s offensive struggles obviously play a large part, too.
“Not a break necessarily (for Flaherty),” Showalter said. “Just trying to get Jonathan out there with this string of right-handers. I don’t want him to be sitting around too long. And it might be good for Ryan, too. Ryan has played well for us defensively and he’ll get it going offensively.”
Flaherty said he doesn’t know why he has struggled so much offensively when the season starts – especially after hitting .294 in 51 spring at-bats.
“I wish I knew. If I knew, it wouldn't be the case. But it is what it is,” Flaherty said. “I'm going to work, get better and you get out of it and things will start going better.”
The lineup has a few more wrinkles in it today. Nick Markakis was dropped from leadoff to fifth to put him a run-producing role Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello. Markakis is 8-for-19 lifetime versus Porcello.
Nelson Cruz is hitting second and Matt Wieters is back hitting seventh after a day off.
One note from the Tigers’ side: Alex Gonzalez is starting at shortstop today. The Orioles traded Gonzalez to Detroit in late March for Steve Lombardozzi, who has started both games here for the Orioles.
Orioles: Lough 7, Cruz 9, Davis 3, Jones 8, Markakis DH, Hardy 6, Wieters 2, Lombardozzi 4, Schoop 5. Norris 1.
Tigers: Kinsler 4, Hunter 9, Cabrera 3, Martinez DH, Jackson 8, Avila 2, Gonzalez 6, Kelly 5, Davis 7. Porcello 1.
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