Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy left Monday’s 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins with lower-back spasms, but he hopes to be back in the lineup for Tuesday’s series opener against the Cincinnati Reds at Camden Yards.
Hardy left the game before the top of the eighth inning, and Ryan Flaherty replaced him. Even though Hardy missed five games in April with lower back spasms, he said this flareup isn’t nearly as bad.
“It didn’t lock up or anything, it just tried to spasm,” Hardy said. “It spasmed up on me a couple times. … Similar but not even close to the degree that it was. I mean, what happens is it spasms up, and it completely locks up on me, and that’s when I miss a week. This was just, it would grab on me probably three, four times today, but it didn't lock up. Probably a good thing I got out of there.”
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Hardy also has missed time with a right hamstring sprain (two games) and a left thumb sprain (three games), but he hasn’t missed any time because of his back since the season’s first month.
"Before this April, it was five years before anything like this has happened,” Hardy said of his back. “And this time again, it’s just little spasms. I don't know if it’s from being dehydrated or what. But this is nothing like April. So, I feel good about it.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he noticed some body language from Hardy that he didn’t like during his last at-bat in the seventh inning Monday and pulled him from the game as a precaution.
“He kind of wanted to continue, but I didn't want to take the chance of getting him worse,” Showalter said. “We'll see what tomorrow brings. I didn't like his last at-bat, I noticed he looked a little different, and I [was talking to bench coach John Russell] during the at-bat, I said, 'Check with him.' He did.
"When you're around the players as much as we are, you can tell their body language a little bit. Something might be a little bothersome, maybe a little more erect or taking more time between pitches out of the box, things like that. Just not their normal tempo."
Both Hardy and Showalter said they hoped the flareup was a byproduct of Monday’s heat and humidity.
“I sure hope I’ll be in there tomorrow,” Hardy said. “I think getting out of there today was probably the right decision. Drink a lot of this Pedialyte and be good. … I feel like I was definitely hydrated. I always sweat a lot. I can lose eight pounds on a hot day. Hot game, I’ll lose eight pounds, and the next day I’m back to normal. I drink a ton of water and everything else. I don't know. Could be, from the heat.”
The ailing Orioles infield is already without third baseman Manny Machado (season-ending right knee surgery) and first baseman Steve Pearce (right abdominal strain).
In his past 22 games entering Monday, Hardy was hitting .333/.386/.568 with five home runs and 17 RBIs. Hardy is also one of the Orioles’ best hitters with runners in scoring position, batting .350 in those situations.