Hardy in the lineup and not expecting any issues with sore ribcage area

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is back in the lineup tonight, set to make his 97th start of the year, despite getting hit in the ribcage yesterday in the fifth inning by Tampa Bay’s James Shields.

Hardy had X-rays taken, which were negative.

“I’m not anticipating any problems,” he said today. “It is sore to the touch, but I’m not worried about swinging or throwing. I haven’t tested it yet, but I don’t think it will be a problem.

“It got better as the game went on. But for that next inning or two, it was pretty tough to throw.”

Hardy has a good size bruise as a reminder that he got plunked.

“Baseball size, yeah. No seams, though,” he joked.

Does he think he will be limited at all tonight?

“I don’t think so,” he said. “Should be fine.”

Hardy said he sees this as a big series this weekend as the red-hot Oakland A’s, who are 16-3 in July, are in town for the first of three games.

“Really big. We’ve got to play good baseball to win, and we need these. Hopefully, our pitchers go out and keep them close and we get some big hits,” Hardy said.

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