SARASOTA, Fla. – J.J. Hardy is enjoying a pain free spring, and he credits fatherhood. Last October, his son Jay was born, and coming off two injury-plagued years, Hardy decided that he wanted a change in his workouts.
Instead of leaving in the morning and working out for three or four hours as he’d been doing for the last 15 years, Hardy decided to maximize his time at home with his infant son.
Under the direction of Orioles strength coaches Joe Hogarty and Ryo Naito, Hardy got to spend more time at home and feel stronger. Hogarty helped him design a gym and Naito devised exercises.
“Whenever Jay would take a nap or whatever, I’d go out and work out. It was totally different from any workout I’d ever done. There was a lot more weight than I’ve ever done. I’ve always done rehab-type workouts because my body has never felt good. I’ve always had knee pain, and I had to do light weight because if I did more weight, my knees would flare up and get worse,” Hardy said.
“The last two years kind of got me to a breaking point where I was going to work harder and lift heavier weights and see if I can get stronger and see if it helps some of the pain, and I feel like it has so far.”
In 2012 and 2013, Hardy missed just seven games, but injuries cost him 21 in 2014 and 48 last year.
“Two years ago, I had back spasms when I was having to put my shoes on on the floor. I couldn’t swing that year. I tried playing through it, but I wasn’t able to swing like I wanted to. Last year with my shoulder, same thing, I wasn’t able to swing like I wanted to. It comes down to just staying healthy, and if I can stay healthy and feel strong, I feel like I’ll be able to swing like I want to,” Hardy said.
On Thursday, Hardy hit his first home run of the spring to straightaway center, a rare occurrence, and followed it on Thursday with another one on Friday. His body is feeling stronger, and it shows.
“I’ve come into spring training plenty times and said that I felt good, and this is the best my body has ever felt, but this is three, four weeks into spring training, and my body is still feeling good, which hasn’t happened before. I feel optimistic that these workouts that I’ve been doing have really been paying off,” Hardy said.
Hardy is one of six Orioles who’ve hit at least 30 home runs in a season. Pedro Alvarez, Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo each have hit at least 30.
“On paper, if you take my most home runs in a season, and say I’m a 30 home run hitter, but I’ve done it once in 11 years. A lot of these guys are capable of it. I’m capable of it. [Jonathan] Schoop is capable of it, so yeah if everyone can reach their potential and do what they’re capable of, then yeah, it can be pretty special, but it’s a lot easier said than done. It’s not like it’s a guarantee that we’ve got guys who have done it, and they’re going to do it again,” Hardy said.
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