The Orioles won Sunday’s game and the series against the Cardinals, but not without a cost. Shortstop J.J. Hardy left the game early after being hit by a pitch in the fourth inning of the 8-5 win and following the game, manager Buck Showalter did not sound positive about Hardy’s prognosis
Hardy did not come out of the game immediately after being hit by the pitch. He was, however, removed from the game in favor of Ruben Tejada before the start of the top of the sixth inning. Tejada was also waiting on deck to bat for Hardy during the bottom of the fifth. While the game was still going on, the Orioles announced the reason for Hardy’s departure as a right wrist contusion.
Showalter’s response to a question about Hardy was simply, “Not good.” He elaborated that the team did an X-ray of Hardy’s wrist at Camden Yards on Sunday and the result, he said, was that the team “saw something that concerned us.” According to Showalter, the team will follow up with a scan tomorrow.
Simply put, with “not good” being the response about the X-ray, the chances for good news about Hardy following another X-ray or an MRI or whatever are also not very good. The question is more going to be “How bad is it?” At this point, it would be a surprise if Hardy avoids the disabled list.
Hardy’s absence would certainly be a blow for the Orioles to have to absorb. You don’t want to lose any veteran player. However, it would also present them with an opportunity: Hardy, with his .211/.249/.308 batting line, is one of the worst hitters in all of MLB. Any Triple-A replacement would have a hard time being worse than that, at least if you purely count contributions at the plate.
If Hardy misses extended time, there’s always the chance that the Orioles might slide Manny Machado over to shortstop. That still leaves the question of who would play third base.
We may find out if the Orioles are as willing to settle for out-of-position third basemen in the same way that they are willing to settle for out-of-position outfielders. They have already used Mark Trumbo at third base for two different one-inning oddity situations.
A better alternative may be leaving Machado where he is, returning Paul Janish to the roster and just living with whatever offense Janish and Tejada combine to provide.