Hardy: Time for young pitchers to 'step up'

Orioles shortstopJ.J. Hardy, who signed a long-term contract with the team during his terrific first season in Baltimore, said he signed a multi-year deal because he sees a lot of promise in the young players on the Orioles' roster.

"Winning is important to me," he said. "I see a lot of potential. I really do. I feel like we've got a lot of young pitchers, and I think it's time for them to step up and do what they are capable of. I know that's what everyone has been saying for a couple of years now, but they've got a few more years under their belt, and I think it's time for them to go out and do it."From a personal perspective, he said that having the security of the long-term deal has allowed him to enjoy the offseason and recharge his batteries for 2012. "Signing that contract said a lot," he said. "It took a lot of pressure off me. Maybe that was the reason I was able to go out and finish the way I did. ... It's nice. It was the first time in three or four years that I wasn't in all the trade rumors. It was nice to be able to know where I was going to be in spring training and have a good offseason."

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