The diagnosis is in on Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy’s wrist and as expected, the news is not good. Hardy, wearing a soft cast, told O’s reporters prior to Monday’s game against the Indians that it would be 4-6 weeks until he was even able to start resuming baseball activities.
Hardy would then have to get back up to game shape and speed after everything is fully healed, making an absence of two months or more looking likely.
The official issue, Hardy said, is that there is a non-displaced fracture in his wrist. That was confirmed by a CT scan today after yesterday’s initial x-rays did not look good. Just about the only positive about the injury is that Hardy will not need surgery.
The fracture occurred when Hardy was hit by a pitch in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals. Watching the play live, it was one of those ones that just made you wince because you could hear a pop and see the ball deflect as if it had hit off the knob of the bat. A slow motion replay revealed that the ball actually hit Hardy’s wrist. That hurts.
The injury news makes it all-but-official that Hardy will be headed to the disabled list. As of this writing on Monday afternoon, the beat corps has yet to play the game of “Who has a locker?” or “Who’s missing from Norfolk?” to identify the exact roster move, but it’s clear that Hardy is headed to the disabled list soon.
A bigger question that will play out over Hardy’s absence is who they will have be the primary shortstop without him. Will they just plug in utility infielder Ruben Tejada and call up, say, Paul Janish to be the new utility infielder? They could still call up Janish and use a mix of Tejada and Janish.
Instead, the Orioles could move Manny Machado to the shortstop spot, knowing that it will be a steady two months there, rather than just a short-term thing. That would leave the team needing to find an answer at third base instead, which it’s not clear presently exists on the roster.
One-time third baseman and one-time Oriole Pedro Alvarez has hit 13 home runs for Norfolk, but his overall batting line is just .212/.286/.410. Not a very satisfying answer. A team with nonexistent high minors prospect depth like the Orioles is seldom going to have a satisfying answer to having a regular go down for two months.