Hardy’s ready to start swinging a bat

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is taking his baseball activities to the next level today, swinging a bat for the first time to further test his back.

Hardy has done everything else except field ground balls. He’s been busy on the practice fields while the Orioles play their games.

“Pretty much just building up baseball activities now,” he said. “My back feels fine. It’s basically I haven’t done anything for five weeks, so everything I did this offseason has been kind of washed out, so I’m just getting back into shape.”

jj-hardy-batting-orange-close.jpgAsked when he might play, Hardy said, “I would say soon. I feel like literally it’s just getting back into baseball form. I don’t think it’s my back anymore. It’s just getting back into baseball form.

“I feel like I’ve done everything but field a ground ball. I’m doing these shuffles and touching cones and it feels harder than fielding ground balls, but it’s the progression they’re taking me on and I’m just doing it. I try to tell Richie (Bancells) what I want to do and he tells me, ‘I’ll let you know.’ So he’s letting me know.”

An early project of a Friday debut for Hardy now is unlikely.

“I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question,” he said. “It would be like coming into camp and, say games started March 1 and everyone shows up Feb. 28 and has one or two days to get ready for baseball. I think they’re going to obviously take it a little slow. I haven’t hit on the field, stuff like that, but my back is all better and now it’s just a matter of progressing baseball-wise and not being stupid and rushing it too much.

“I kind of want to stand in on bullpens that are going because pitchers are going to be throwing and if I can stand in on that, that would be similar to those three days that guys are standing in on pitchers throwing live BP. So there’s a way we can kind of knock out a lot of things and get ready. But the 10th I feel like would be kind of pushing it a little bit because obviously I haven’t done anything for five weeks. Could I do it? Yeah, I think I probably could.”

Hardy said he won’t need much time to get ready.

“I mean, I think the 10th maybe would be pushing it,” he said, “but it wouldn’t be far after that, for sure.”

Once he’s cleared to play, the Orioles can find ways to build up Hardy’s at-bats. They know how to get creative.

“I feel like we normally get between 40-50 at-bats during spring training and if I play 15 games and get three at-bats, I mean, that’s 45 at-bats,” he said. “I feel like that would be fine. Maybe I’d be playing a few more games in a row than I would have if I started March 1, but I don’t think that would be an issue. I could always go over to minor league camp and get nine at-bats in one game. I don’t think the at-bats are going to be an issue.”

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