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Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy hopes to return to lineup in Cleveland

An MRI performed on Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy’s sprained left thumb was clean, and he said he hopes that he can return to the team’s starting lineup during this weekend’s series in Cleveland.

“Came in yesterday and [saw] a big improvement,” Hardy said. “Came in today, had a bigger improvement and real positive about the way it feels.”

Hardy has been out since Sunday after injuring the thumb in Saturday’s game when he slid into home plate and his hand hit off St. Louis Cardinals catcher A.J. Pierzynski. He was out of the lineup for the third consecutive game Wednesday.

Hardy said he will come in for additional treatment on the thumb on the Orioles’ day off Thursday. Hardy said he’d like to resume some baseball activities while at the ballpark Thursday, but added that he will “play it by ear.”

“My goal is to be on the field in the Cleveland series. Not sure which day,” Hardy said.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Hardy could have been available in some capacity for Wednesday’s game.

“Looking forward to him being in the starting lineup Friday or Saturday,” Showalter said.

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