BOWIE - J.J. Hardy’s first minor league rehab game was a success for the Orioles shortstop. He played six innings tonight for Double-A Bowie, went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and handled the one ball hit to him fine on a routine groudout in the top of the first.
This was Hardy’s first game since May 1 with the Orioles. Hardy has been out with a fractured bone in his left foot. He has been rehabbing the injury at the Orioles’ spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla. He came north to play tonight and the next two nights with the Baysox as he works his way back to Baltimore.
“You know, it felt all right,” Hardy said of his night in the Eastern League. “As the game went on I was getting a little more comfortable and wasn’t (thinking) about it as much. We’ll just see how it feels tomorrow, and do a little bit more tomorrow and hopefully feel it a little less.”
Any concerns about how he will feel tomorrow?
“I don’t think so. I really don’t,” Hardy said. “I think it will be better. Like I said, the more I was moving around, the better it was feeling. I will probably play a little bit more tomorrow and pregame stuff I’m going to push it more, too. Kind of stretch myself out on ground balls and test it more. Just little things like that and it’s getting better.
“I got to slide tonight. I didn’t need to, but I wanted to. Get that off the old checklist there. Just getting on the bases and playing is so much better than being in a boot in a hotel room.”
Hardy said that is where the game instincts come into play: “You can only do so much practicing and you have to get in a game to really feel that game speed and test it.”
Hardy hit a groundball single to right field in the first inning, grounded out to third on a diving stop in the third and singled again in the sixth. That looping fly ball glanced off the glove of left fielder Anuery Tavarez. Three batters later, Hardy scored ahead of a Henry Urrutia three-run blast to center.
“Not bad,” Hardy said of how he felt at the plate. “I felt like I was a little jumpy. I swung at a couple of balls that last at-bat, but I think that’s normal. I missed a fastball and was telling Howie (Clark, Bowie hitting coach), ‘Man I missed a fastball right down the middle in my second at-bat.’ He said, ‘You’ve been gone six weeks, it’s OK.’ “
Hardy said he was pleased with how it went tonight but his performance doesn’t really provide any further clarity on his timetable to rejoin the Orioles. It is too soon to know that answer. The earliest that would potentially be would be Friday, but Hardy said before the game that might be too fast.
“Yeah, I’m still not going to try and get ahead of myself,” he said outside the Baysox clubhouse. “I think if tomorrow I come back and feel even better and the next day feel even better, or don’t feel it all, then we’ll know. But I’m still going to wait until after these next three days to really feel what is going to happen.”