Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy threw Sunday, could swing a bat Monday and be back later this week for the first time since fracturing his wrist in June.
Or he may stay on the 60-day disabled list for a while longer, forcing the Orioles to bring up another infielder as bench insurance.
Those are probably the only two scenarios right now.
“I’m getting better. The wrist isn’t really an issue,” Hardy said. “The shoulder was an issue a little bit, now it’s the forearm. Kind of tennis elbow stuff.”
Hardy’s minor league assignment has expired, and while he was at Triple-A Norfolk he said he felt like his shoulder was rounding into shape. But all of the swings he took trying to catch up to make it back probably affected the wrist.
“I tried to squeeze six weeks of spring training into a week and a half. Spring training for me is always the time to get my shoulder and everything loose,” Hardy said. “It usually takes that time for me. So, a week and a half, I felt like it was getting better and it was going to be good enough. But this elbow thing kind of came up out of nowhere.”
Always a realist, Hardy said if he can’t be back this week, he’d expect the Orioles will add a middle infielder to the roster.
“It’s got to be a few days from now at least. I haven’t swung since the shot. I don’t know,” Hardy said. “Soon. Soon. If not soon, then there’ll probably have to be something else.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed that the club will “probably need another,” infielder if Hardy can’t make it back to the active roster by Friday.
That becomes tricky since, there are no other middle infielders on the 40-man roster besides those currently with the team. Ruben Tejada and Luis Sardinas would need to be added, which means some other player would have to be removed from the 40-man roster. And then, when Hardy is ready, an additional 40-man move would have to be made – likely involving the infielder that was promoted — since Hardy is currently on the 60-day disabled list.
Showalter, however, is hoping that all that can be avoided and Hardy can be activated this week.
“I’m hoping that at some point in the Yankee series that he’s available to us,” Showalter said. “It could be that quickly. … If that manages in the next day or so, if it’s real good today, that could move pretty quickly. If it doesn’t, by say Thursday, by the off-day, we’d probably think about doing something for Cleveland (on Friday), I would think.”
Gentry’s chance as a pinch-runner
Outfielder Craig Gentry, who suffered a non-displaced fracture to his right middle finger Friday, was scheduled to see a specialist Sunday to get a better idea of a timetable for his return. Gentry and the Orioles both hope he’ll be able to pinch-run once he is able to come off the 10-day disabled list.
“I can put a guard on this thing and be able to pinch-run for sure, but that’s up to them,” Gentry said about his finger. “But, yeah, I’m definitely willing to do any of that stuff.”
With Gentry injured and outfielder Joey Rickard starting fairly often, the Orioles have no true pinch-runner for late in games. Showalter said he doesn’t see Anthony Santander as an option for that and Triple-A outfielder Chris Dickerson is dealing with a knee issue which has required a MRI.
“We don’t really have that skill set at the Triple-A level. That’s why guys like Craig are in such demand,” Showalter said. “If the doctor clears him, I’m hoping you’ll see him be a pinch-runner for us in eight days.”
Ynoa up, Asher down
The Orioles promoted right-hander Gabriel Ynoa from Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday and sent righty Alec Asher to Double-A Bowie, where he’ll help the Baysox during their playoff run, which begins Wednesday.
Ynoa, 24, has a 4.26 ERA in four games with the Orioles this year. He was 6-9 with a 5.25 ERA at Norfolk, but had been the Tides best starter in the past month. He’ll serve as a long reliever.