Aug 18, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) is tagged out by New York Mets catcher Travis d
The Baltimore Orioles lost a heart-breaking game on Friday night, as Darren O’Day was uncharacteristically off and left up three runs in the 8th inning.
And while the bullpen has been vulnerable lately, I don’t think that is the biggest concern for the Baltimore Orioles right now.
That concern is J.J. Hardy.
Hardy is 33 years old. Let’s face it, he is not a young player. And that age has shown recently, especially the last few days.
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Hardy has never been a very fast player. Ok, that may be an understatement. Hardy is pretty slow. He has eight stolen bases in 9 years in the majors. But watching him run to first base recently, his gait looks off, he looks slower than usual, he appears to be in pain.
Gary Thorne commented during the MASN broadcast on Friday night that Hardy was limping after grounding out on a ball many players would have beat out.
Then, in the ugly eighth inning, Hardy was slow to field a ball, and looked to be in pain after failing to get the runner at first base.
In his last 15 games, Hardy is 7 for 55, with a .127 AVG, .158 OBP, and .164 SLG. That isn’t awful, it is absolutely terrible. In his last seven games, it is even worse.
Over his last 30 games, Hardy has a batting average barely above the Mendoza line and an OBP of .235.
On the year, his batting average is just .223, which is 35 points below his season average.
I’m not sure what the fix is. Hardy is on the first of a three-year, $40 million contract. The shortstop in AAA, Paul Janish, is not known for his offense. Regardless, I can’t see Hardy getting benched unless he goes on the DL.
If that happens, I think Rey Navarro should get the opportunity to play SS for the Birds.
Then there is the giant elephant in the room. What about Manny Machado. A natural short stop, Manny could be moved to short stop. But, I can’t see the Orioles moving him permanently.
If Hardy isn’t healthy, he shouldn’t be on the field. But if he is healthy, then what he is doing now isn’t good enough.
Hardy’s play is cause for major concern for Oriole fans.