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Orioles notes: Shortstop J.J. Hardy to see hand specialist next week, hopes for mid-August return

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who has been sidelined the past five weeks with a fractured bone in his right wrist, hopes to resume all baseball activities shortly with a focus on returning by mid-August.

He will see hand specialist Dr. Kenneth Means on Monday after the club returns from its six-game road trip with the hopes that he will be cleared to continue with the final phases of wrist-strengthening activities that would be the next step to getting him back onto the field.

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For now, Hardy's baseball activities are limited to fielding ground balls pregame, trying to stay as close as he can to a regular routine so when he's cleared to hit and throw he can speed through his minor league rehabilitation assignment and return to the team. Hardy knows from a wrist injury he suffered in 2010 that he can't try to rush back and attempt to hit without all the discomfort in his wrist gone.

"I know you can't hit with [discomfort]," Hardy said. "You can't hit with a bad wrist. I know from that experience I'm not going to rush back and not be able to hit, or at least worse than it was before I got hurt. … There's still some discomfort, but not bad. It's getting better. Every day I can notice a little bit of improvement."

He's dealt with many injuries over his career, but the past two — he fouled a ball off his foot last season — have been freak injuries. Adding to the frustration is being forced to sit out during one of the most critical times of the season as the Orioles attempt to get back into the postseason race as the nonwaiver trade deadline looms, placing the direction of the club in limbo.

Hardy said Tuesday that he also realizes it's unlikely the team will pick up his $14 million option for next season. He was confident he could turn his season around — despite playing solid defense as the anchor of the infield, Hardy is hitting .211/.248/.308 in 64 games — but the injury doesn't allow him much time to do it.

"I think anytime you get hurt it [stinks]," Hardy said. "It's just not fun. You rather be out there playing than sitting around watching. This year, in particular, if this didn't happen, I could have turned the season around and had a better year and who knows what would happen for next year. So, yeah, that screws up a lot. Once it happened, I knew what was going to happen. I think at that point, I still could have turned my season around, I had every intention of doing that and once this happened and it actually showed a crack, then it was kind of like, 'Well, that's it for that.' "

Davis sits for second straight day

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis missed his second straight game Tuesday night with a viral infection but hoped to return to the starting lineup for the series finale today in Tampa Bay.

"I think it's — from what I got from the doctor yesterday — it's a little viral bug," Davis said. "You want the details? I woke up two nights ago feeling pretty crummy and I had some reflux, we'll use that word. Just an uneasy stomach, wasn't able to keep anything down. And yesterday, kind of the same thing, just a little less aggressive, a little bit better today. … But just kind of drained. Try to get as much food or nutrition as I can, but hopefully I'll be in there tomorrow."

Davis hoped to be available off the bench Tuesday. The Orioles sent him back to the team hotel before Monday night's game in fears he was still contagious.

"Chris is still weak, a lot better today," Showalter said. "Hopefully he'll be able to start tomorrow. … I talked to him today, I think he's past the contagious part and he's going to be around tonight unless we send him home. We'll talk to him about how he feels. … He hasn't eaten in almost a day and a half. So hopefully he can start eating something."

Davis said he didn't think the bug was as serious as one he had last July that forced an emergency room visit in New York and made him miss three games.

"I don't think it was quite as bad," Davis said. "That was a three-or-four-day thing. I was in the hospital the first night with that, so like I said the way it was described for me was basically just a viral thing.

Showalter breaks down Trop

Showalter wondered in a MASN postgame interview with Gary Thorne on Monday about the potential dangers of having bullpens — and the elevation mounds there — after third baseman Manny Machado drifted near the visiting ' pen to make a nice running catch on a foul ball.

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His words drew attention in the Tampa Bay area, even though Showalter regularly brings up the nuances of visiting ballparks. Tropicana Field, which is universally a punching bag among major league ballparks, is one of three parks with bullpens in foul ground.

"There should be zero, right?" said Showalter, who is one of three managers on MLB's competition committee. "I'm surprised the players association doesn't get more involved in it. It's a safety issue. …. Houston has a metal scoreboard [in left field], and Wrigley [has a brick outfield wall], and [stadiums] have different warning-track lengths. Shouldn't that be the same distance? Like here, there's a color difference, but there's no texture difference."

"They do a good job with a challenging facility," Showalter said. "I can't imagine anything else. If there's something they could do, they'd do it. … The safety factor is what most people worry about. That's why you're still trying to figure out why they can't pad the [outfield] wall at Wrigley. You see guys all the time pull up short at Wrigley. … There are a lot of people that talk about problems, but what's your solution? If that's a problem, then what's your solution? They're not the only place. … They talk about Wrigley Field, they talk about Fenway Park. It usually comes down to who pays for it, right?

Around the horn

Utility man Ryan Flaherty went through his final round of baseball exercises Tuesday before starting his minor league rehab assignment Thursday at Double-A Bowie. Rule 5 draft pick Anthony Santander is expected to start his rehab there as well. …  Prospect Hunter Harvey will make his second rehab start Wednesday since returning from Tommy John elbow reconstruction when he pitches two innings for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team. Harvey debuted last Wednesday with a scoreless inning in a GCL game. After Wednesday, he will make one more GCL start before reporting to Short-A Aberdeen to finish the season. ... Minor leaguer Tyler Coolbaugh, a 36th-round pick and the son of big league hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, pulled a quadriceps while running out a double in a GCL game Tuesday.

eencina@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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