BALTIMORE — The Orioles received a scare on Monday when J.J. Hardy exited the game with back stiffness, but it appears the veteran shortstop will not miss extended time.
Following the 4-3 win over the Houston Astros, manager Buck Showalter said it would be “more likely than not” that Hardy would play Tuesday after he was favoring his back upon singling to center field in the bottom of the seventh inning. Back problems are no stranger to Hardy, who dealt with an ailment for much of the 2014 season and was limited to just nine home runs in 141 games.
“If anything, I was just kind of protecting my back,” said Hardy, who anticipated returning to the lineup on Tuesday night unless his back worsened overnight. “Apparently, it didn’t look very good [running], so it was probably the right decision. I didn’t want to come out of the game, but I’d say it already feels better than it did.”
Hardy told Showalter he believed the problem stemmed from sleeping on a soft mattress in Miami over the weekend. The Orioles signed Hardy to a three-year, $40 million extension last October with the knowledge of the infielder’s history of having a cranky back. Showalter expressed confidence that the organization would continue to effectively manage Hardy’s back as the Orioles have already done in recent years.
The 32-year-old received the day off in the finale of the three-game set against the Marlins on Sunday, making you wonder if he stiffened up too much due to the inactivity.
“See what happens? I get a day off and I get worse,” Hardy quipped after Monday’s win. “I honestly feel better right now than I did in the seventh, but I think it was the right decision. Buck just saw me favoring it a little bit. It’s good. It’s not bad.”