Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn't write shortstop J.J. Hardy's name in tonight's lineup. But that doesn't mean Hardy is definitely getting the night off.
"He doesn't start," Showalter said. "Two different terminologies there."
Hardy, who has started every game this season, could be used tonight as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement. The game will dictate it.
"I'd like to stay away from him," Showalter said. "I've been trying to do it for a while. Told him we were thinking this way and then something happened health-wise or something match up-wise that didn't work out.
"It isn't one of those things you ask a lot because I know what J.J. and most all of our guys are going to say. But it's one of those things that I've just got to do. I think it's a good time for him, especially with some of the off-days coming up.
"I get the trainers' report every day, and there are guys that are playing every day that are on there every day. There's something with every guy, just about. I feel like I know J.J. a little bit, his body language and some other things. I'd like to get ahead of it. Instead of being reactive, we want to be proactive with it.
"This makes J.J. better, which makes our team better. I think it's as much a mental and emotional day as it is physical, because nobody is going to be 100 percent again until probably Nov. 15. The last time they were was about the second or third day of spring training. It's just not a normal thing to do with your body every day. It's not a normal thing to do with your emotional and mental state of mind. That's what separates us.
"It certainly wasn't J.J.'s idea. It was mine. He'd play every game."
Showalter said he also wanted to get Alexi Casilla on the field tonight. Casilla is starting at second base, with Ryan Flaherty moving to shortstop.
Hardy, sitting at his locker this afternoon, admitted that he wanted to play 162 games this season.
"I was kind of hoping for it. I've never done it before. But 161's not bad. That's the new goal," Hardy said, grinning.
"Buck's been trying to give me a day for about a month now, and I think today just kind of falls into that. I'm going to take it. I'll recover a little bit and think about the rest of the season and hopefully October.
"This month, I think we have the most off-days (five) coming up, so just add another one to that and be strong, I guess, the rest of the way."
Asked to rate himself physically, Hardy replied, "I don't think I'm any worse than anyone else on this team that has been grinding through it. I'm able to play. I could play. It's just that I think we're all a little bit exhausted from the grind. But I wouldn't say any worse than anyone else in this clubhouse."
Is the soreness in his arm, leg, shoulder?
"The whole body," Hardy said. "I'm fine. It's definitely not something I couldn't play through. I think that would be worse. I think we've only got one off-day in September, so this couldn't hurt."
Hardy didn't get to fully rest over the All-Star break, since he started at shortstop in the Midsummer Classic. Would he have felt stronger with four days off?
"Maybe," he said. "I don't know. It sure couldn't have hurt by any means. But would I trade that for going to the All-Star Game? No way. I had a blast. We all had a blast at the All-Star Game. To represent the Orioles in that way, I wouldn't trade that for anything."
Meanwhile, veteran pitcher Freddy Garcia didn't opt out of his contract with Triple-A Norfolk. He will remain in the organization.
Garcia is 6-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 10 starts with Norfolk this season.
Orioles director of player development Brian Graham met with Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette to discuss the instructional league roster.