Baltimore Orioles

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy nearing return to starting lineup

NEW YORK – J.J. Hardy is out of the starting lineup for the third straight game, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter indicated that the shortstop is close to returning from nagging back spasms.

Showalter said that Hardy could be an option off the bench for today's game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.


"A lot better, much more available," Showalter said. "I'm optimistic he'd be an option today. We'll see how the rest of the day goes. I wouldn't have said that yesterday. He's improved, very close to being ready to start. Hopefully, it will give us more options than we had yesterday. ... You can tell just by his face. So that's good."

Being without Hardy handcuffed Showalter from making some substitutions in the Orioles' 4-2 loss Monday to New York.


With Manny Machado still recovering from offseason left knee surgery and Hardy out, the Orioles have been without the Gold Glove left side of the infield, and shortstop Ryan Flaherty and third baseman Jonathan Schoop have struggled offensively while filling in.

Flaherty and Schoop are a combined 4-for-42 this season.

"I see guys trying to develop a track record," Showalter said. They've got a pretty good minor league one. Now they're trying to do it at the next level, and without J.J. and Manny, we knew that was something, we knew had a chance to happen. That's why we talk about all offseason the 'what ifs.' It's not always in June or July. It's in April. ... Every club haves them. ... It's just part of it. They've done some good things and will do again."

Delmon Young will start as the designated hitter Tuesday, batting second in the batting order for the first time since May 18, 2008. He has 28 career starts in the No. 2 hole -- with 27 during his rookie season in 2006 -- and he has a career .314/.331/.471 line in that spot.

Also of note:

-- Showalter said left-hander Johan Santana felt good following a two-inning simulated game in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday. Showalter said he was impressed with Santana's velocity in the game.

-- Manny Machado's activities Monday included running on the pool treadmill, but he hasn't resumed running sprints or running the bases.

Here are the starting lineups:


Nick Markakis RF
Delmon Young DH
Chris Davis 1B
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Nelson Cruz LF
Steve Lombardozzi 2B
Ryan Flaherty SS
Jonathan Schoop 3B
Wei-Yin Chen LHP

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran RF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian McCann C
Francisco Cervelli 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Ivan Nova RHP