Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy during a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy during a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)

The Orioles will get Gold Glove shortstop J.J. Hardy back for tonight's series opener against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The team hasn't officially made a corresponding move to create 25-man roster space to activate Hardy, but he's in the Orioles lineup, batting seventh.

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Hardy will make his season debut tonight nearly six weeks after injuring his left shoulder while making a sliding play over the middle.

"It was a lot longer than I expected, maybe longer than some people expected," Hardy said. "It's good to have it in the rear-view mirror and move forward. … It seemed like it was taking forever. I guess six weeks, right? Six weeks tomorrow. Yeah, it definitely took longer than I thought."

Hardy needed just three minor league rehab games at Double-A Bowie before rejoining the team. Going into the rehabilitation assignment, Hardy said he was concerned about feeling some discomfort at the end of swing-and-misses when his top hand comes off, but he's feeling fine.

Since he's missed so much time, Hardy also didn't know how long it would take him to recover his timing at the plate.

"It wasn't terrible," Hardy said. "I had some bad at-bats and my timing was a little bit off, but I think it went pretty well for the three games. After missing five or six weeks, it wasn't too bad. … It might take a few more games, but the main thing is the shoulder felt good and we will take it from there."

Hardy said he will continue to keep the muscles around the shoulder strong to prevent any future problems with it.

"Basically be like a pitcher rehab-type stuff and keep it strong," he said. "I might [limit my swing] if it starts to get sore at some point, but right now I feel like I can do everything and I'll do that as long as it feels good."

Here are tonight's starting lineups:

Orioles
Manny Machado 3B
Jimmy Paredes DH
Adam Jones CF
Delmon Young RF
Chris Davis 1B
Steve Pearce 2B
J.J. Hardy SS
Travis Snider LF
Caleb Joseph C

Chris Tillman RHP

Yankees
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Chase Headley 3B
Stephen Drew 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

Nathan Eovaldi RHP

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