Already trying to snap a four-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Detroit Tigers, the Orioles were forced to scratch shortstop J.J. Hardy for the second time in three games as he continues to deal with lower back spasms.
Hardy was originally slated to play with Tigers starter Justin Verlander on the hill, but manager Buck Showalter removed him from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch as the 31-year-old experienced spasms in a different spot than he did Friday when he missed the opening game of the Detroit series. He went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the Orioles’ 7-6 loss on Saturday.
The All-Star shortstop’s back issues aren’t an encouraging development for Baltimore as third baseman Manny Machado continues to work his way back to full strength from offseason knee surgery and started the season on the 15-day disabled list. Ryan Flaherty was moved from third base to take Hardy’s place at shortstop while rookie Jonathan Schoop was inserted in Sunday’s lineup to play at third.
Hardy is 5-for-15 in four games this season and had three career homers against Verlander, making his absence disappointing as the Orioles were facing the 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player.