J.J. Hardy didn’t start Tuesday night, but both Hardy and Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the veteran shortstop will be back in the lineup Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds.
“I expect J.J. to start [Wednesday]. How’s that?” Showalter said. “And he is available in some form [Tuesday], if the game dictates it.”
Hardy left Monday afternoon’s game against the Minnesota Twins before the eighth inning because of lower back spasms, something that cost him six games in April. Hardy said he felt a little discomfort, and Showalter said he didn’t like Hardy’s body language after an at-bat in the seventh inning.
Hardy came to the ballpark Tuesday and said he felt “as normal as I could, and [Showalter] just wanted to make sure and give it one more day. But I'll be ready. Obviously, I want to play, but I think it's probably the smart thing to do.”
Hardy dealt with a similar situation in early April when he missed the fourth game of the season, April 4 in Detroit, because of back spasms. Feeling better, he played the next day at Comerica Park, felt more intense spasms and then missed five games, including the full series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
“I felt pretty good the day that I hurt myself in April in Detroit,” said Hardy, who is hitting .280 with nine home runs in 125 games through Monday. “So, just to be safe, take one more day and go from there.”
Hardy said it’s possible that he was just dealing with dehydration Monday because of the heat and humidity in the area. He said he has been drinking lots of fluids, which seems to be working.
“I'm probably about six pounds overweight right now from all the stuff I've been drinking,” he joked.
Ryan Flaherty started at shortstop in place of Hardy on Tuesday. He was one of two reserve infielders pushed into starting duty in the past few games. Jimmy Paredes was in the lineup at third base again Tuesday, with Chris Davis moving back to first base because Steve Pearce is still sidelined with a strained abdomen.
Showalter said he doesn’t expect Pearce to start Wednesday. Pearce appears to be improving, though he still hasn’t been cleared to hit.
“This is the hardest thing ever. Being here watching the guys, not being able to work out [or] hit,” Pearce said. “It’s kind of hard for me just to sit back, especially since I don’t have any pain. I feel like I can do it, but they want me to let this thing calm down and just be healthy down the stretch.”
Pearce hasn’t played since being removed before the fourth inning Friday for precautionary reasons. He is listed as day-to-day, but he may skip the entire Reds series in hopes to be ready to play in the series on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays that starts Friday.
“I think now it would be more realistic for me to be ready for Tampa,” he said, “because, right now, I’m shut down for everything.”