Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Friday afternoon that he trusted shortstop J.J. Hardy to let him know when he is ready to come back from the disabled list.
After Friday’s loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, Hardy said he feels ready to play for the Orioles for the first time since May 1, when he broke a bone in his left foot.
“Yeah. I think so. I think so,” Hardy said Friday evening when asked whether he expected to be activated Saturday.
Hardy played three injury rehab games at Double-A Bowie this week – including all nine innings Thursday – and then re-joined the Orioles for on-field work and batting practice Friday.
“I felt really good today,” Hardy said Friday night. “I played those last three days at Bowie, and each day was better than the previous. I’m excited about that improvement, and today was really good.”
Hardy said the bone has healed, but he was experiencing some soreness in his ankle when he ran previously. He tested it again Friday and it was, “better than I expected.”
Hardy, who was hitting .244 with two homers in 22 games this season before the injury, will move back to his accustomed shortstop spot while Manny Machado will return to third base.
The Orioles likely will do something with one of their current infielders – either demote Ryan Flaherty or designate Paul Janish for assignment on Saturday – even though the club expects to lose Machado to a four-game suspension this week. That would leave the Orioles with no reserve infielders, though Chris Davis or Pedro Alvarez could play third in a pinch.
The club also must make a move to activate right-hander Yovani Gallardo from the DL to start Saturday’s game. Showalter said he and executive vice president Dan Duquette will look at their options and make two or three moves before Saturday’s game.
Friday’s starter Mike Wright is one of those moves. After allowing eight runs in 3 2/3 innings and pushing his season ERA to 6.12, Wright was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk post-game. He is expected to go back into the Tides’ rotation, though he might remain a possibility to make an emergency start as the Orioles’ 26th man as part of next Saturday’s doubleheader.