Machado's injury and Hardy's free agency present questions about future of O's infield

We are getting ahead of ourselves here since we have not heard yet from the Orioles on the latest news about Manny Machado. How long will he be out if he indeed does have right knee surgery? What will the recovery time period be?

But this development has potential ramifications beyond just what this means for Machado. For instance, what does this mean for J.J. Hardy's future as an Oriole?

All along, Machado has been there to possibly move to shortstop if Hardy were not re-signed and leaves via free agency after this season. Does this change that?

hardy flaherty highfive sidebar.jpgIf there is uncertainty about Machado's knees holding up in the future, playing shortstop if needed there also brings about questions. Could his knees handle that and will he even be healthy and agile enough to play the position?

The end result could be that Hardy is even more important to the Orioles today than he was yesterday. While everyone was wondering in the last year whether the club could or would re-sign Chris Davis and Matt Wieters to extensions, Hardy has also been a pending free agent.

The Orioles sounded interested in signing him to a new contract last winter and before this season started, but it never happened. Hardy asked reporters early this year to table the questions on this topic since there really was no news to report.

Right now would seem a strange time to talk to Hardy about an extension with the team weeks away from what they hope will be a long playoff run. But maybe as soon as this season ends, the club will need to engage their shortstop in serious talks.

On a team that values defense to the extent the Orioles do, can the club afford to lose Hardy while Machado enters 2015 coming off a second knee surgery?

Maybe when the 2015 season starts, Machado will be completely healthy and playing like his old self while Hardy - armed with a new deal - will be beside him. But right now, there are some questions about the future of the left side of the Orioles infield.

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