Showalter: Hardy getting close, Bundy’s bullpen role and more

TORONTO - Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy last played for the team on May 1. He has been out since then with a fractured left foot. But his return to the club is now finally getting close.

In the next few days, Hardy may be playing on a minor league rehab assignment. He could need just a few games there to get ready to rejoin the Orioles.

“Yeah, he’s close,” manager Buck Showalter said today in his pregame media session. “I’m not going to jinx it. See how today and tomorrow goes, but he’s getting close.”

Would Hardy need a lot of at-bats to get ready once he starts playing in the minors?

“About one. Maybe two,” Showalter joked this morning. “No, more than that. Would be nice if it kind of came the same time as Manny (Machado serving his suspension). We’ll see. Probably won’t be that fortunate. No one knows what Manny’s time frame is going to be.”

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Showalter noted how much fun Machado has had playing shortstop with Hardy out and how much fun he has had playing next to his good friend, second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

“I live through them. They make me young. Sometimes they make me old. They’re having a lot of fun and I like that. They take the right things seriously. If you can’t find some levity, you are not going to survive in this game,” he said.

The Orioles did not make a roster move today to get a fresh arm for their bullpen. They have Vance Worley available as the long relief man and Brad Brach and Mychal Givens should both be available this afternoon. Plus the team has an off day on Monday. So no move was made.

Did the O’s come close to making one?

“I don’t think very close,” Showalter said. “We should start getting guys back we didn’t have yesterday and some the day before. Got the off day tomorrow. We play like 21 or 22 days in a row. I think through that period we only made one pitching move. That’s unusual. If you were going to make a pitching move, you’d have done it the day before yesterday.

“With Dylan (Bundy), I’m not going to start pitching him back-to-back. Keep our priorities in mind with him. Not going to put him in harm’s way. Can’t get our heart ahead of our brain. Can’t think of anything worse than him not getting through the year physically. We are not going to take that chance.

“It is kind of like carrying a Rule 5 guy again. We really have, what four on the club now the way I look at it. You count Bundy, Flaherty, McFarland and Joey Rickard. I don’t see the Yankees and Red Sox carrying that many, do you?”

Showalter confirmed that moving forward he is planning to,when he can, pitch Bundy with several days of rest between appearances. Over his last few games he has had three days, three days and four days between games. That allows Showalter to use Bundy in longer outings and they feel like his stuff is better with the rest. Bundy pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings Thursday and fanned three. He hit 97 several times on the radar gun.

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