Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy smiled today as a herd of reporters and cameramen rushed to his table at the far end of the row during player availability for the media on the club level at Camden Yards.
Hardy warned that his contract extension isn’t “official” and he can’t comment on it, but he understood why the questions needed to be asked before the Orioles took batting practice in preparation for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
“It’s going to be a big disappointment,” he said, drawing laughs.
“Nothing’s official. I think we’ve just got to wait. If something happens, when it happens, I’ll be able to talk about it, but until then there’s nothing to talk about.”
Hardy has stated several times that he wants to remain with the Orioles, who are expected to announce a three-year extension worth $40 million that includes a vesting option based on at-bats. Manager Buck Showalter has been pushing for Hardy to stay in the organization.
“I’ve let everyone know that I like it here,” Hardy said. “It would be great if it all happens.”
The timing of the talks is interesting, since we’re reached the postseason. Hardy said they were “fairly recent.”
“It definitely was dead for a while,” Hardy said. “Things have started a little bit and hopefully something can happen.”
Hardy said he was surprised by reports that the deal was done.
“I got texts from you guys and I would have liked to have responded, but nothing was official, so I can’t say anything. And that’s just the way it is,” he said.
“I definitely don’t want it to be a distraction. We definitely have some other things to worry about right now and I think that’s kind of our focus,” he said. “If something happens, then we’ll sit down and everyone will get to talk, but until then, I think we’re all focused on what we need to do this next week or two.”
The year has been “a lot of fun,” Hardy said.
“We’ve got a great team here and it’s fun to win and we’ve won a lot. It’s definitely been a good year.”
Reliever Darren O’Day said pitchers were high-fiving when they heard about the extension.
“We’re excited to keep (Hardy) around,” O’Day said. “Steadiest shortstop in the game. He gets his glove on the ball, it’s probably going to be an out. Just fundamentally sound and a great player. He works really hard to stay on the field and get out there every day, and for the team to reward him with an extension is definitely warranted.”
I heard earlier today that there’s nothing in the works with right fielder Nick Markakis on an extension, which he later confirmed. Nelson Cruz said there have been no serious talks between the Orioles and his representative, and he remains focused on the playoffs.
Caleb Joseph was amused and perplexed by reports that he suffered an injury and might miss the ALCS. He wasn’t aware of them until executive vice president Dan Duquette checked on him yesterday.
“He asked if I was fine and I told him I was, and I asked, ‘Do you know something I don’t know, because I’m pretty sure I’m fine and healthy,” Joseph said. “Am I supposed to be hurt? I don’t have any idea what that was about. I was shocked when he asked me. But I’m totally fine, 100 percent healthy and ready to go, whatever the team needs me to do.
“I hadn’t heard anything. I thought he was joking. Apparently, something got out. I’m totally fine.”