BALTIMORE — Originally slated to start as the Orioles tried to complete a three-game sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals, shortstop J.J. Hardy was scratched from Sunday’s lineup due to a sprained left thumb.
The announcement came minutes before first pitch as Ryan Flaherty slid over to the shortstop position after originally being tabbed to play second base. Rookie Jonathan Schoop was inserted in the order at second base before the Orioles fell 8-3 to the Cardinals.
“Probably could have [played],” Showalter said. “[He] swung the bat. He was going to make a little adjustment in his grip. Obviously, his left hand doesn’t bother him defensively. But, the wrong jam shot [could have aggravated it].”
The news came with Hardy swinging a hot bat as he was 4-for-7 with two homers and five runs batted in over the first two games of the series in which the Orioles outscored St. Louis by a 22-5 margin. It’s been a difficult year at the plate for the veteran shortstop, who will be 32 later this month and has hit only six homers in 438 plate appearances after clubbing 77 in his first three seasons in Baltimore.
Hardy expressed disappointment following the game and acknowledged he may have to play through some soreness in the immediate future. He injured the thumb while sliding into home plate during Saturday’s win but remained in the game.
The infielder told reporters he had issues gripping the bat as well as opening and closing his glove during Sunday’s pre-game activities, which led to Showalter pulling him from the lineup.
“We’ll see how it is tomorrow. I have a feeling that I’ll probably play through some pain,” Hardy said. “If I can, I will. It’s frustrating anytime you’re dealing with your hands. Hopefully, today’s the only day and I’ll come in tomorrow and be able to get through it.”