One of the common pregame sights in the Orioles home clubhouse last season was the card games that often gravitated toward the lockers of shortstop J.J. Hardy and first baseman Mark Reynolds.
Now that Reynolds, a fan favorite who blossomed defensively at first base, has signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Indians, Hardy needs to find a new card-playing buddy.
"I've still got [catcher Matt] Wieters next to me, but he only played because Reynolds forced us to play and then [Nick] Markakis was also in there," Hardy said Tuesday at the OriolesREACH holiday party for kids at the Dave and Busters at Arundel Mills Mall. "I don't know. We'll see. We'll get it worked out."
Hardy and Reynolds are good friends, and Hardy said he talked to Reynolds often leading up to his signing, and the Gold Glove shortstop expressed disappointment Tuesday that Reynolds won't be returning to the Orioles in 2013.
"A little bit," Hardy said. "He wanted to come back. The thing is I think he would have signed for less money to come back here. It will be interesting to see what happens. I think we'll all miss him for sure."
The Orioles declined Reynolds' $11 million option and didn't tender him a contract. He could have made about $9 million through arbitration.
While the Orioles kept the door on resigning Reynolds open, they didn't meet with his representatives. Now, he will meet his 2012 salary of $7.5 million only if he meets all his incentives.
"I've talked to him, not as much since he signed with them, but I was talking to him a lot before that," Hardy said. "There were a lot of teams showing interest in him. And I still thought there was a chance we'd get him back."
As for the card games, Hardy will have to recruit another player.
"I got a pretty good idea who is good enough to be in our group," Hardy said with a smile. "It's a small group of people in our clubhouse who can play in our game."