Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy didn’t need the numbers recited to him as he stood at his locker this afternoon. He’s fully aware that Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster has dominated him over the years. To say it’s one-sided would be much too kind.
Hardy is 2-for-30 lifetime against Dempster, who takes the mound tonight for the second game of their series at Camden Yards. He continues to bat seventh. He continues to search for a solution.
So, about those numbers...
“They’re terrible,” Hardy said. “I was aware of it. It’s even worse than it is because you don’t count the spring training at-bats. I probably got 20 spring training at-bats off him, too, in Arizona when he was with the Cubs. I don’t know if I got any hits then, either.
“Some guys, you just don’t pick up, and he pitches me tough. Always has. There are certain guys that you just don’t pick up as well and he makes his pitches against me.”
Hardy and Dempster go way back, to the shortstop’s days with the Brewers and the right-hander’s tenure with the Cubs.
“I knew that I had struggled against him all those times in Milwaukee,” Hardy said. “I think eventually it just starts to get in your head a little bit.
“It’s definitely a challenge. It’s always a competitive nature. I want to figure him out. I’m sure he knows how he does against me, as well. We have the same agency. There’s a little more to it. So I know that he owns me and he knows that he owns me. It’s just kind of, I guess, a mental game.”
Adam Jones is 4-for-9 against Dempster, and Manny Machado is 3-for-10. Small samples sizes that wouldn’t do Hardy any good if he decided to approach them for advice.
“I don’t think the guys in here faced him as much when he was with the Cubs,” Hardy said. “Not that he’s not as good as he was then, but he was really good for a few years over there with the Cubs and those are the times I faced him.”
Hardy gets another rematch tonight.