BALTIMORE – In his first 74 games at shortstop this season, J.J. Hardy has made just one error. Orioles manager Buck Showalter doesn’t have to be prodded to praise his shortstop.
On Saturday night, he watched Detroit’s Jose Iglesias flip the ball back to second base to force Caleb Joseph, a breathtaking play.
Hardy doesn’t make those. He makes more than enough of the others.
“We consider J.J. very flashy because of the ability to make those plays without drawing any attention to it,” Showalter said. “He got an in-between hop last night that eats a lot of guys up, and nobody even noticed it.”
Hardy had a 68-game errorless streak entering Sunday’s game. It may be no coincidence that in the 19 games Jonathan Schoop has played with Hardy since Schoop returned from his knee injury, he’s made just one error.
“The impact he has on Jonathan,” Showalter said. “Jonathan’s doing things the way J.J. does them.”
Showalter loves to watch Manny Machado play third base, and knows he deserves the attention he gets from his inventive play there. He likes watching Hardy, too.
“J.J.’s just solid,” Showalter said. It was a long 25 games without him at the start of the season. Hardy was on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder.
“Through thick and thin offensively, he contributes every night. We missed him,” Showalter said. “It seemed like an eternity.”
In 17 days, Hardy will turn 33, and he’s good at conserving energy.
“He’s learned how to pace certain things. He knows how much he’s counted on,” Showalter said. “He’s not into trying to see how to how easy the game, showing how easy it is for him.”