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J.J. Hardy talks ping pong, the Baltimore heat, and Cal Ripken

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Franklin Sports talked to new Oriole J.J. Hardy in Sarasota and graciously provided Camden Chat with a transcript. Some of his answers are pretty interesting so I thought I'd pass them along. Enjoy!

I don't know if you've heard of this, about Rob McElhenney from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," have people told you that you look like him?
I've heard, yes.  Actually, first time I heard it was when Chad Moeller comes up to me and says, "Hey, do you watch this "Always Sunny in Philadelphia?"  I go, "No," and he goes, "Oh, never mind."  And I go, "Why?" and he goes, "Well, there's someone who looks identical to you." And then I looked it up and then if you look up his name there will be pictures of me next to him.  I kind of see it; I feel like my parents and everyone else I've pointed it out, they don't see it.  But, I saw it.

Who was your favorite player growing up, and who did you look up to?
This is going to seem like it's a coincidence because I'm with the Orioles now but my favorite player was Cal Ripken Jr.  I just loved the way he played, I loved the fact that he was out there every single day and the fact that he was a little bit bigger, back in the day that there weren't as many big shortstops, it made me feel like I had a chance to be a shortstop, being a little bit taller.

What are some things you like to do when you're not playing ball?
I've got a lot of little hobbies. Fishing – now that we're out here in Florida for Spring Training, I fish pretty much every single day when we're done here.  In the off-season I spend a lot of time playing Ping Pong, try to keep my game up there.  Not as much golf anymore, I used to golf quite a bit.  Kind of shot that down, now more Ping Pong and fishing.

How did you get to become a Ping Pong player?
My dad was a professional tennis player, and he still teaches for a living, and we grew up around it and I have a brother who is about 17 months older than I am, we played Ping Pong growing up and it was a sport that we kind of clicked at, and having someone as good as I was at it, and me as good as he was, kind of kept us getting better. I take a lot of pride in my Ping Pong.

How do you feel the Orioles can compete, playing in the A.L. East?
For me, I feel like scoring a lot of runs takes a lot of pressure off the pitching; obviously the pitchers want to keep them from scoring runs and take the pressure off of us so for me I say we're going to go out there and score as many runs as we can.

How is it going to feel playing in Camden Yards as opposed to being in Milwaukee and Minnesota?
I've only played one series in Baltimore, and that was last year and I was with the Twins and it was the hottest series I ever played, even in the minor leagues in the Southern League, playing in Alabama and all those places that it was really hot, I felt that Baltimore was the hottest three games I've ever played in, maybe just because of the humidity but the actual park, I don't know exactly how it's going to play.  I really enjoyed hitting in Miller Park and from what I hear Camden Yards is kind of similar.