Shortstop J.J. Hardy was scratched just before Sunday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Camden Yards with a sprained left thumb, an injury he suffered Saturday while sliding into home plate.
It is uncertain when Hardy will return to the starting lineup, but he said he believed he might be able to return for the Orioles' series opener against the New York Yankees on Monday. X-rays on Hardy's thumb were negative Sunday.
"I have no idea," Hardy said after Sunday's game. "I hope to be back in the lineup. See how it is tomorrow. I have a feeling that I'll probably play through some pain. If I can, I will."
Hardy injured his left thumb while scoring on Delmon Young's second-inning double Saturday in the Orioles' 10-3 win over the Cardinals. As Hardy slid feet first into home plate, his thumb hit the left leg of St. Louis catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Hardy was wearing a wrist brace on his left hand, but it didn't offer protection for his thumb.
"He wanted to play today," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Probably could have. Swung the bat. He was going to make a little adjustment in his grip. Obviously, his left hand doesn't bother him defensively. But, the wrong jam shot [would have been bad]."
Hardy, 31, said after Sunday's game that the thumb was sore and that he had some discomfort while gripping the bat, swinging and squeezing his glove. A back-to-back American League Gold Glove winner and one of the club's best clutch hitters this season, Hardy has played through plenty of pain.
He has dealt with several injuries in his career, including lower back spasms and a right hamstring strain that forced him to miss eight games in the first 3 1/2 weeks this season, but he had played in 96 straight games since April 23 before Sunday.
"It's frustrating," Hardy said. "Any time you're dealing with your hands, it's tough in this sport. It's definitely frustrating. Hopefully today's the only day, and I'll come in tomorrow and I'll be able to get through it."
Hardy is hitting .283 with six homers and 40 RBIs this year, and he had his first multihomer game in the Orioles' 12-2 win over the Cardinals on Friday. He was 11-for-23 with three doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in his last six games.
Hardy also has been one of the Orioles' best hitters with runners in scoring position, hitting .343 in those situations this year.
"It was a little bit more sore today," Showalter said. "If we had been playing a night game and he had a little bit more recovery time … I didn't want him to start banging around in the cage after he did some short toss and tee work and have it get worse. … Everything seems fine. We all know how valuable J.J. is to us."