CHICAGO -- Since returning from a left thumb injury that kept him out for three games, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy entered Tuesday with six hits in 16 at-bats, including three multihit games out of four.

Through Monday, Hardy was batting .396 in August while still playing through pain in his thumb.

“I don’t know,” said Hardy, who turned 32 on Tuesday. “Maybe I’m not trying to do too much because I can’t. That’s my only explanation, but [the thumb injury] is definitely not in the past. … Swing and misses don’t feel good. I’ve just got to limit that. I’m taking less swings [in batting practice] and probably at about 50 percent.”

Hardy, who also missed eight games in April with lower back spasms and a right hamstring strain, is used to playing through injury. And at this point of the season — with players managing various bumps and bruises from a long year — it’s not rare for player to limit their pregame work.

“It’s a very admirable trait, because if you wait around until you’re perfect and 100 percent everything, then the season will be long over,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We do a lot of optional BPs where a lot of guys never leave the clubhouse. I trust them. … We know more is not always better.

"Guys are creatures of routine, but I don’t tell them, ‘Hey I think you don’t need to hit today.’ They know what they need. I think they kind of feed off that trust we have in them. They know. …We get it back at game time.”

Hardy hopes he can continue to manage the injury while letting it heal.

“I think it’s starting to feeling a little bit better the last couple of days,” Hardy said. “I really don’t want to play like this for the rest of the year, but if I can manage this and it can keep getting better that’s what we’re looking for.”

eencina@baltsun.com

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