PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA. — Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who has been working through back spasms since reporting to spring training last month, will be back to baseball activities by late next week, manager Buck Showalter said Saturday.
"He's getting ready to take ground balls, probably next [week], sometime late in the week, if he keeps progressing," Showalter said. "I saw him running yesterday. He's doing a lot of things, little by little —just little hurdles to cross. He's doing some trunk rotation now. We're being real cautious with it. If it was a different time frame, we'd be going a little different, but we want to get it right the first time.
"I wouldn't put a hard date on it. … I'm hoping we have some legitimate baseball activities going on on the field, whether it be ground balls, throwing, hitting, running around. I'm hoping by next week."
Even so, Showalter said Hardy isn't too far behind where he'd normally be in terms of game at-bats despite the injury. The plan was for Hardy to start ramping up game action around March 10 even if he was healthy, Showalter said. For comparison's sake, fellow veteran regulars Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo have each played four of the Orioles' 10 games, including Saturday's against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Likewise, Showalter said closer Zach Britton (left side soreness) isn't too far off from where he was last year, even if his progression has been slowed by the injury.
"He's got one more side session before he gets on the mound," Showalter said. "He's ready to go, I'm told. We just want to get a little more clear without any problems."
Around the horn: Showalter said the Orioles have been asked to supply six innings of pitching for Tuesday's exhibition against the Dominican Republic as cover for the visitor's pitching staff, and that he was leaning toward right-hander Gabriel Ynoa being one to pitch for the opponent. … Showalter seemed relieved that the line drives off left-hander Wade Miley and second baseman Johnny Giavotella in Friday's game don't seem to have produced too much lingering damage, though he did note there was some swelling in Giavotella's wrist. Giavotella didn't travel to Port Charlotte, but said it was a scheduled day off.