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How fatherhood made J.J. Hardy stronger


How fatherhood made J.J. Hardy stronger

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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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."