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Although he's not 100 percent, J.J. Hardy returns to lineup

TORONTO — Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy said he isn't 100 percent recovered from his strained right hamstring, but he's healthy enough to return to the lineup.

Hardy returned to the lineup Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre after missing the past two games with the injury. He left the Orioles' 6-5 loss Sunday to the Boston Red Sox in the seventh inning and later said he initially felt the strain while running the bases in the fifth.

Hardy said Wednesday that he still has some tightness in the muscle, but it has improved dramatically in the past 48 hours.

"There's definitely tightness, but that's just normal, and it's not going to be 100 percent when I get back in there," Hardy said. "There's only one way to test out game-speed stuff."

It has been a frustrating start to the season for Hardy, who has missed a total of nine games because of injuries this month. He missed six out of seven games from April 4 to April 11 with lower back spasms. Hardy had dealt with back issues in the past, and once the spasms calmed down, he was able to return.

Although he isn't certain, Hardy said he believes the hamstring injury might have been caused by his recent back issues.

"Hopefully I won't have to try to score on a double in the gap or something from first," Hardy said before Wednesday's game. "Try and be under control at least a little bit the first day. I think I'll be able to be smart with it. Hopefully not re-injure it and just keep getting better from here on out."

Catcher Matt Wieters, who missed Tuesday's series opener with a sore throwing forearm, was also back in the starting lineup Wednesday.

Wieters said he hadn't tested his throwing arm going into Wednesday's game, but he felt the extra day of rest — in addition to his scheduled off day on Monday — helped to alleviate the soreness.

Around the horn

Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Suk-min Yoon allowed two unearned runs and eight hits in five innings Wednesday in a 5-4 loss to Lehigh Valley. He had one strikeout and walked two batters. After allowing nine earned runs and 11 hits in 21/3 innings in his first start, Yoon has allowed just four earned runs over his past three starts, a span of 15 innings. … Left-handed pitching prospect Tim Berry gave up only one run and three hits in six innings Tuesday for Double-A Bowie, striking out four batters and walking one. Through four starts this season, Berry is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA over 24 innings with 19 strikeouts and six walks. … With a solo home run in the third inning and a grand slam in the fifth Wednesday, Nelson Cruz recorded an RBI in his sixth straight game. The last Orioles player to record RBIs in six straight games was first baseman Chris Davis (Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2012). The franchise leader for most consecutive games with an RBI is Doug DeCinces (Sept. 22, 1978-April 6, 1979). … The Orioles entered Wednesday's game with a 9-5 record when they don't commit an error and 0-5 record when they do. They have made five errors in their past four games after making three in their first 15 games this season. … In honor of the Orioles' 60th anniversary season, from now until April 30, Maryland residents can visit Orioles.com/plates to bid on license plate numbers 1966, 1970 and 1983, the three years that the club won the World Series. Then, from May 5 through June 15, remaining plates numbered 1955-2014 will be auctioned off by decade for one week at a time. Proceeds from the auctions will benefit the Orioles Charitable Foundation.

eencina@baltsun.com

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