Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was back at Camden Yards on Friday participating in pregame activities, will be activated from the disabled list either on Saturday or Sunday, manager Buck Showalter said.
Hardy worked out before batting practice, took live BP and did regular infield drills before the Orioles' series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. Showalter said that depending on how Hardy responds to that, he could return from the DL as early as Saturday, or he could play one more minor league rehabilitation game at High-A Frederick on Saturday and be activated Sunday.
Hardy, who has been on the DL with a fractured bone in his left foot for the past six weeks, finished his three-game stint at Double-A Bowie on Thursday, playing all nine innings and going 1-for-5 at the plate. Hardy said Wednesday that he didn't feel any discomfort in his left foot at the plate or playing defense, but had some stiffness in his ankle area when running the bases.
Hardy said he believed that discomfort was rooted in his foot being in a boot for five weeks after fouling a pitch off it on May 1.
"We're leaning on J.J. on this," Showalter said. "He knows he's real close. There's one little thing he wants to feel good about. He's moving real well defensively. I think plus-plus speed has not been his forte … but he wants to be able to score from second on a single and score from first on a double and do the things he needs to do. But we're looking forward to getting him back. It's been a long road."
So Hardy should be back by the time Manny Machado – who has been filling in at shortstop in Hardy's absence – has his four-game suspension appeal heard, which is scheduled to happen Tuesday.
Most appeal rulings are handed down within 48 hours of the hearing, and Machado would have to then serve any suspension immediately after. Machado could drop his appeal at any time leading up to the hearing.
Pitchers going back to basics
Showalter said pitchers will do early work before Saturday's 4:05 p.m. game to emphasize fielding fundamentals the team has struggled with recently.
Showalter has expressed his frustration with the fact that Orioles pitchers entered Friday with 10 errors this season, equaling the number of errors they made all of last year.
"Almost a third of our errors this year are by our pitching staff and they're usually pretty good at it," Showalter said. "We're going to try to do some things tomorrow. Some of the things we do with holding runners has gotten a little sloppy. We want to clean that up."
Showalter said the pregame work isn't unusual, and that they do some form every other homestand. But Showalter, pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti wanted to take some time to emphasize the fielding fundamentals.
"Some of our pitchers, the situations they've put themselves in, have been self-inflicted — some double-play balls, some stuff back at them, throwovers, just little things," Showalter said. "Like you've got swinging bunts and the guy is definitely safe and you throw the ball ill-advised. Just some mental things. Unfortunately, some people's delivery doesn't allow them to be in a good position to field. That's probably not going to change with some of the guys."
Around the horn
Whether Hardy returns Saturday or Sunday, the Orioles must make a roster move to make 25-man roster space for him. They will likely have to lose an infielder. Utility man Ryan Flaherty has options, but can play seven different positions. Veteran infielder Paul Janish would have to clear waivers before he could be sent to the minor leagues. … The Orioles must also make a move to make room for right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who returns from the DL to start Saturday. … Showalter said right-hander Darren O'Day had "a good day" in his recovery from a hamstring injury. O'Day's progress has been slower than expected. ... Showalter is still confident that right-hander Vance Worley (groin) will be able to return from the DL when he is eligible on June 28.