Hardy rolling since returning to O's lineup

Hardy rolling since returning to O's lineup

Hardy rolling since returning to O's lineup
BALTIMORE -- Shortstop J.J. Hardy returned to the lineup from the disabled list on Tuesday and was a catalyst in helping the Orioles win the first two games against Seattle.

Hardy, who had been out since April 10 with a strained left oblique muscle, was 5-for-7 with a home run, two walks, a run scored and one RBI since returning to the lineup entering Thursday's series finale. On Wednesday, he came up with several big defensive plays to keep the Orioles in the lead.

Hardy said a short stint at Triple-A Norfolk helped him with his timing with live pitching after being away for four weeks. The Orioles are 6-2 when Hardy plays and 10-17 without him.

"I was working pretty hard once I was able to start doing stuff," Hardy said. "I had the three games down in Norfolk to see some pitches, and to be honest, I didn't think I was that far away once I started swinging down there."

Hardy said he is completely injury-free and he is playing with confidence. He said the Orioles made sure he took enough time off to make sure the injury was not something that hampered him over the course of the season.

"I did make sure it was going to be gone," Hardy said. "I didn't want to deal with a nagging injury all year. I think we went about it the right way and it should be in the past now."

Manager Buck Showalter said Hardy's performance since coming off the disabled list is a testament to his hard work and work by the Orioles medical staff to get him ready.

"He's had a nice effect," Showalter said. "A few times over the course of the year, you have all the bullets you hope you would have when you left Spring Training. It's nice to get J.J. back and settle things down in the [bottom] third of the order, which has actually been a fairly productive area for us."