The injury-hit Orioles will be without veteran shortstop J.J. Hardy for at least a month and possibly two after a CT scan Monday confirmed the team’s worst fears from the day before — a fractured right wrist caused by a hit-by-pitch Sunday.
“It’s a nondisplaced facture in his wrist bone,” manager Buck Showalter said. “If you take your little finger and go down [a straight line to the wrist], that’s where it is. It should be four to six weeks if everything goes well. We’re fortunate it was a nondisplaced fracture. Displaced, you have to go in and repair it.”
Hardy, who was put on the 10-day disabled list and replaced on the roster by utility infielder Paul Janish, said the estimate of four to six weeks was just to get back to baseball activities after letting the bone heal. Showalter said that timeline is until they “start thinking about him as a player — whatever that entails.”
Either way, it’s another unfortunate injury in a line of them for the 34-year-old shortstop.
This makes it three straight years Hardy has lost significant time since he signed a three-year contract extension during the team’s 2014 playoff run — and even that year was marred by a back problem. In 2015, he missed the first month of the season with a shoulder injury that was revealed at season’s end to be a torn labrum. He rehabilitated that and was back to full health before fouling a ball off his foot and fracturing it May 2, 2016, and now his wrist is fractured.
His contract includes a $14 million option for 2018, which the club might be less likely to pick up because of the injury.
The fact that the past two injuries came on seemingly freak impacts is “just frustrating,” Hardy said.
“I had never broke a bone in my life until last year, and now this,” he said. “It’s frustrating. Very frustrating.”
Hardy is an unwelcome addition to a growing list of injured Orioles, and will be placed on the disabled list and replaced on the roster Monday or Tuesday, Showalter said, depending on whether the team plays Monday night. Once on the disabled list, he’ll join first baseman Chris Davis, who is out at least a month with a strained right oblique, infielder Ryan Flaherty (shoulder), and pitchers Darren O'Day (shoulder) and Zach Britton (forearm).
The Orioles have also dealt with two absences for starting catcher Welington Castillo, and short spells without second baseman Jonathan Schoop, third baseman Manny Machado, center fielder Adam Jones and right fielder Seth Smith. They also were without right-handed starting pitcher Chris Tillman (shoulder) for the first month of the season.
Showalter made clear there would be no sympathy in opposing clubhouses or anywhere else for the club's tribulations.
“Everybody has got their tale of woe if they want to have that,” Showalter said. “People get sick, people leave when a loved one passes away. That’s part of life. You’ve got to deal with it, and we’ve done a good job of dealing with it in the past. … J.J. will be back at some point. You can look at this thing with a lot of negativity. I think if I and the player and coaches start talking about that, that’s a bad atmosphere, instead of saying, ‘Hey, here’s a real opportunity to show our mettle and fight through it.’ ”
Hardy is batting .211/.248/.308 this season, with perhaps the high-water mark coming Saturday, when he doubled twice and drove in three runs in a win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Camden Yards.
“I felt like I was making strides, getting out of the little funk I was in, then this happens,” Hardy said.
Last year, his absence jumbled things on the infield, but Showalter said the plan this year is to leave players where they are as much as possible. That means third baseman Manny Machado, who moved to shortstop in Hardy’s absence last year, will stay in his normal position while newcomer Rubén Tejada gets an extended look at shortstop.
Given Flaherty’s injury, Janish, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Norfolk, was the obvious choice to be added to the bench as the spare infielder. But Tejada will get the chance to show why he was so promising coming up with the New York Mets, and be able to prove he’s still that player after shuffling around the past few years.
He has the glove for shortstop, and offensively, has five hits in 20 at-bats this season and is a career .252 hitter over parts of seven major league seasons, mostly with the Mets.
Showalter hopes Tejada has learned from Hardy, Machado and Schoop in his short time here, though it’s clear he won’t be expected to replace the “stabilization" Hardy provides.
“Guys seem to be in the right place,” Showalter said of Hardy. “He’s always separating offense from defense, and always [has] coverages on stolen bases, hit-and-runs, relays — quarterbacking the infield, so to speak. There’s a lot of things that people miss that he brings. There’s just a real calmness for everybody. It kind of makes everything click a little better — timing, the clock, where everybody is going to be, how they’re going to receive the ball on feeds and whatever. He’s driven in some big runs for us. I know it hasn’t been offensively what he wants it to be or what he’s capable of, but he still has some big hits through that. There’s a lot of things you miss for him that you can’t quantify.”