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Saturday’s Bird Droppings: Where J.J. Hardy is back with the Orioles

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The spring training storylines are firing on all cylinders!

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

J.J. Hardy is back! Sort of! The three-time Gold Glove shortstop has taken a role as a guest instructor for this spring training alongside fellow former Orioles Mike Bordick, Jeff Conine, Ben McDonald, Scott McGregor and Brian Roberts.

As far as I know, Hardy is not officially retired, but the 37-year-old has not played since 2017, when he posted a 56 OPS+ in 73 games with the O’s. In all likelihood, his playing days are over, and it would seem that Hardy is interested in starting his post-playing career.

Is Hardy’s presence down in Sarasota indicative of his plans? Bordick, McDonald and Roberts are all currently part of the Orioles broadcasts on TV and radio. Conine has television experience with the Marlins. McGregor was a minor league coach in the early 2000s.

Hardy was both a fan favorite and one of the players most important to the Orioles resurgence as a franchise in the 2010s. If he wants a role somewhere within the organization he should be given an opportunity to fit in. This guest instructor role allows him to do that.

Links

Cobb hopes for comeback year; Orioles add guest instructors - Baltimore Baseball
It would be neat if Alex Cobb could put together a productive season. He has reached the point in his contract where he could be an attractive asset on the trade market, not to mention the Orioles could use some help on the bump to begin the year.

Prospects Orioles fans should be watching as the college season begins - NBC Sports
The O’s have the second overall pick in this summer’s draft, and they will likely pick in the top five in 2021. One or both of those picks could come from the college ranks. This post has four guys that we should keep tabs on.

Bleier back to bullpen form in Orioles camp - School of Roch
Richard Bleier went from being one of the more reliable arms in the Orioles bullpen to becoming a weak link in a relatively poor unit in 2019. The 32-year-old will be under pressure to but his 5.37 ERA performance from a year ago behind him.

Doug Brocail’s strong praise for John Means and Alex Cobb - Steve Melewski
What if the Orioles pitching staff is actually...good? John Means is going to follow up his impressive debut with a solid sophomore campaign. Alex Cobb is healthy and ready to return to form. David Hess tried some new things this off-season. Maybe things aren’t so bad after all!

Orioles birthdays and history

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Right-handed pitcher Brian Williams turns 51. The nine-year MLB vet spent 13 games with the 1997 Orioles, allowing eight runs and striking out 14 in 24 innings.

It is also the birthday of the late Luis Mercedes (b. 1968, d. 2019). The outfielder was an Oriole for parts of three seasons from 1991-93. All together, Mercedes had a .195/293/.242 slash line in 52 games with the O’s.

Finally, it is the 82nd birthday of Chuck Estrada, a right-handed pitcher that played five seasons with the Orioles from 1960-1964. The hurler’s career was highlighted by a rookie season in which he went 18-11 with a 3.58 ERA, made his lone all-star team, finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting and 12th in the MVP contest.

2011 - The Orioles contract with Korean pitcher Seong-Min Kim is voided by MLB. The KBO had filed a complaint that the Orioles breached protocol by failing to obtain the necessary clearances prior to signing the young hurler.

2018 - The Orioles sign right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner to a two-year, $16 million contract.