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Orioles reliever Darren O'Day recovering from sore hamstring plus pregame notes on J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis

Orioles reliever Darren O'Day recovering from sore hamstring plus pregame notes on J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis
(Karl Merton Ferron / The Baltimore Sun)

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Orioles right-hander Darren O'Day, who hasn't pitched since Tuesday, said he's recovered from a sore left hamstring injury and is available to return to his role as one of the club's most valued late-inning relievers.

O'Day threw a bullpen session before Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays and did some fielding drills in the outfield to test his leg. He said he was available for Saturday's game, but didn't pitch.

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"My hamstring was sore, my high hamstring," O'Day said. "I think I might have broke up some scar tissue or something. I'm not a doctor, but it was only a couple days, so I think I'm ready to go."

O'Day said he injured his hamstring in 2007 while pitching in the Los Angeles Angels' minor league system and believes the soreness might have had something to do with that injury.

"It's the same spot, but that time it was much worse," O'Day said. "It happens where the muscle, you traumatize it and then it stays with you a while. I think it was a result of that."

O'Day said it's been difficult being unavailable for the past three games knowing he could help the club. The Orioles lost Friday's series opener 3-0 after the bullpen allowed three runs in the eighth inning in a situation O'Day would usually have been in.

"When you come to a game and you know you're not going to pitch, it's pretty frustrating," O'Day said. "I don't like it. Andrew [Miller] and I were just discussing it, how miserable it is, actually. We like to pitch. That's what we like to do. I don't particularly like to watch baseball. I like to play it. I want to be in there whenever I can, whatever date or month that is, I'll be in there to pitch."

Miller, who had been dealing with a tweaked muscle in his left leg, made his first appearance since Monday in Saturday's game but threw just two pitches before the game ended on a passed ball in the ninth.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the coaching staff — particularly pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti — is very careful and meticulous about the health of the club's relievers.

"I don't take it for granted, but Dom's got his arms around it," Showalter said. "I trust him. And we sit down every day about 6:15 for a 7 o'clock game and go over the whole bullpen. We've got a yes [and] no. We don't have any gray [areas]. You go out there it's available and not available. … We read body language, face, how they feel physically.

"I [can] tell you how many times, on one hand, someone said, 'I shouldn't or can't or won't pitch today.' They don't say that, so you can't leave that," Showalter said. "That's not a pitcher's decision. You can't put that in their head. That's not fair to them. It's like going out and telling somebody if he wants to pitch to somebody or if he wants to stay in or not. That's not their job. Don't put them in their position. That's not fair to a pitcher."

Hardy sits out again as precaution

Shortstop J.J. Hardy missed his second game this week on Saturday, a precaution after dealing with lower back spasms recently.

Showalter said Hardy could have played on Saturday and was available off the bench if needed, but added he wanted to give him a day off to be cautious, especially on Tropicana Field's artificial turf. He expected Hardy to be back in the starting lineup for Sunday's series finale.

"Just trying to stay ahead of it," Showalter said. "Trying to be a little proactive instead of reactive. … He could play. He's available. Just didn't like how he felt after the game last night and decided to be cautious with it today."

Hardy missed six games in April with lower back spasms and sat out Tuesday after leaving Monday's game in the eighth inning following a flareup.

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Hardy has been one of the team's hottest hitters, batting .323/.382/.527 with nine extra-base hit (four doubles, five home runs) and 19 RBIs over his last 26 games. Hardy is also hitting .354 (29-for-82) with runners in scoring position this season.

Davis finds way into lineup

Chris Davis wasn't on the first lineup card posted in the Orioles clubhouse Saturday, but it seemed Davis was able to talk his way into the starting lineup because a second card was posted — with Davis starting and playing third base — after he went into Showalter's office.

"I have the ability to reconsider," Showalter said. "No, Chris and I talked. I thought he might need a day. Chris has that cachet. I like that. We had both of them made up. I had a feeling where we'd end up, but I wanted to make sure I was right. He didn't talk his way in. Nobody talks their way in. You can talk your way out."

Davis was just 1-for-8 against Rays left-hander Drew Smyly in his career entering Saturday, but his one hit was a homer in Smyly's last appearance against the Orioles on Aug. 27 at Camden Yards.

The move paid off as Davis homered again off Smyly to lead off the second inning on Saturday.

Around the horn

Infielder-outielder Steve Pearce, who left last Friday's game with a right abdominal strain and had missed the past seven games, returned to the starting lineup and was 0-for-2 with two walks. … Right-handed pitcher Bud Norris, who will start Sunday's series finale, is 1-2 with a 4.35 ERA in six career appearances (five starts) against the Rays. He has pitched to a 4.63 ERA in two starts against the Rays this season with no decisions. … The Orioles are 19-27 in day games this season. … Nineteen years ago on Saturday, Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak by playing in his 2,131st straight game against the Angels at Camden Yards. … Despite Saturday's loss, the Orioles are 8-2 in games after being shut out.

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