Orioles' J.J. Hardy has been kept out of practice due to back spasms. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun video)
SARASOTA, FLA. — The last of three tests performed on Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy's ailing back came back negative. So manager Buck Showalter remains confident that Hardy could make his first spring training game appearance around March 10, which would keep him on pace to be ready by Opening Day.
Results of an MRI and a CT scan were encouraging, and a bone scan on Hardy's back – which in part was done to reveal the degree of inflammation – gave the Orioles further optimism that the injury isn't serious.
"You can tell just being around him he's pretty upbeat about it," Showalter said. "I think we talked about dates [Friday]. I expect him to be playing, if we don't have any setbacks, March 10, which means he'll be doing a full workout March 4 or 5. It could be before that, but I'm not going to push it."
Hardy began feeling lower back spasms about three weeks ago while doing an offseason workout. He let his back rest, but when it didn't recover he became concerned and told the team.
In 2014, Hardy dealt with lower back spasms for most of the season, but missed just 11 games for that injury and avoided the disabled list.
Showalter said Hardy has begun taking anti-inflammatory medication to help speed up the recovery process.
"The thing we were worrying about were tears," Showalter said. "There's nothing there. … Just got to calm down the irritation."
Around the horn
All four World Baseball Classic-bound Orioles position players — Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop and Welington Castillo — will play Tuesday in the club's first instrasquad game of the spring. … Showalter said right-handers Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson will be stretched out as starters this spring.