Hamstring feeling better, Hardy nearing return

Hamstring feeling better, Hardy nearing return

TORONTO -- Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy was not in Tuesday's starting lineup, but he said his right hamstring was feeling "much, much better," and that he could possibly return on Wednesday.

Hardy, who spent Monday night icing the injury at the team hotel, ran and took some ground balls before batting practice and said he's in a much better mood regarding his hamstring injury than he was this weekend in Boston.

"It all felt good enough to where I think tonight if needed I could get in there," said Hardy, who hasn't played since he exited Sunday night's game after six innings.

"I don't think they want me to go tonight and hurt it, but I told them I'm available. We'll see. It's my first time ever having anything like this, so I don't know what to really expect. So, I'm really taking the word from guys who've had it before, and the trainers."

Hardy missed six games early this season with back spasms, and suffered the hamstring injury running the bases in the fifth inning of Sunday's loss. Without him and third baseman Manny Machado, the Orioles have employed an infield of shortstop Ryan Flaherty, third baseman Jonathan Schoop and second baseman Steve Lombardozzi.

"I was really encouraged today. He made some real strides," manager Buck Showalter said of Hardy. "You can tell in his face, most guys you can tell in their face the way they are feeling. J.J. probably could have pushed it and played tonight. I could have done it if I wanted to do it, but -- plus you got the turf here."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.