J.J. Hardy said O's success proves he made the right decision on contract extension

When shortstop J.J. Hardy signed a three-year contract extension with the Orioles last July 18, the team had a record of 38-55.

But Hardy said he felt then that the organization was going to be a winner in the future and that the team's performance this year validates his decision to re-sign with the Orioles and not wait to become a free agent after last season.

"I always said I signed that deal because I saw that there was potential with this team and organization," he said Friday. "To be honest, I didn't think it was going to happen this quick. I saw a process that was headed in the right direction.

"When I was with the Brewers, we had a ton of losing seasons and that was kind of the same thing. Next year we are going to shoot to be a .500 team, and the next year make the playoffs and then maybe go even further. It wasn't a jump from losing seasons to being where we are at right now, so this has been a lot of fun."

Hardy said the word that comes to mind when he thinks about how this season has gone for the club is "fun."

JJ_Hardy-sidebar_catching.jpg"Kind of going against all the odds," Hardy said. "You know I told some people today this group is the most team-oriented club I've ever been a part of. Look at how many guys we've had on the roster and how many contributed through the year. It's something like I've never been a part of before in my career. This has been really special."

Hardy said improving the defense has been a real key for the Orioles, and when Manny Machado was called up to play third base with Mark Reynolds at first, the corners were solidified.

"Both of those moves were huge," he said. "Manny has come up and played third base like he has been playing it his whole life, and he's not acting like the 20-year-old kid that he is. Mark has been a Gold Glove first baseman. He has saved us a ton of errors, and he looks like he has been playing there his whole life also."

Hardy is thinking of team and not personal goals right now, but he was asked yesterday what it would mean to him if he won a Gold Glove for his defensive play this season.

"I've told people that would be one of the biggest achievements, and I'd be very, very honored if that happened," he said.

Meanwhile, the Orioles are no longer a negative run differential team. After winning the last two games by a combined 21-3 score, they went from a minus-11 to a plus-7 in run differential.

Chris Davis said that stat has never had much meaning for the players.

"I still don't even know where we are with that thing," he said after last night's game. "I know it's been talked about a lot but, at the end of the day, the only stat that really matters is the W.

"I think it's a lot more for the media and people that are trying to put the game into a statistic than it is for us. We just try get the W. It doesn't have to look pretty, as long as we get the win."

Davis said the team was not discouraged that they are still one game behind the Yankees with five to play.

"You can't expect anyone to go out and lose," Davis said. "At the end of the year, you really have to make a push. Any win you get will give you more momentum to carry into the postseason, and that is what we are trying to do right now. Build it up and keep riding the wave."

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