NEW YORK – J.J. Hardy returns to the Orioles lineup after spending the past 15 days on the disabled list with a left groin injury. For now, that ends the Manny Machado experiment at shortstop. Machado played his first five major league games there while Hardy was out.
Manager Buck Showalter wasn’t surprised by what he saw with Machado at short.
“I don’t mean to sounds smug, but about what we thought. He’s capable there. I don’t think we’ve had a good enough complete feel. If you look at him and compare him to other shortstop around the league and compare him with other third basemen, I think there’s a bigger chasm than there is at shortstop,” Showalter said.
“He’s capable of doing both. Fortunately, we have J.J. and don’t have that need.”
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With Hardy in the lineup, the Orioles are 49-42. Without him, they’re 16-30.
“It doesn’t surprise anybody. He’s a good player and we’re a better team when he is playing. It kind of brings everything (together),” Showalter said.
“When you’ve got Manny (at third) and J.J. there (at shortstop), we match up pretty well with anybody…I think J.J.’s gonna finish strong offensively. He’s got a lot of nagging things that he finally got out of the way that’s been a challenge for him all year.”
Miguel Gonzalez will be eligible to return from the disabled list on Sept. 15. Gonzalez, who is on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, won’t be ready to pitch next week, Showalter said.
“Hoping not too long after that,” Showalter said.
“First time yesterday, I was talking [to him] in the dugout, he felt he really made some strides there, where he didn’t feel day-to-day discomfort. So, that’s encouraging. Felt like, the shoulder would be the quickest and the elbow might be a little slow ‘because of the [cortisone] shot. I’m happy with his progress.”
With just 19 games remaining after Gonzalez could return, there won’t be many opportunities for him to pitch.
“I’m not holding to the fact, I’m just, I hold out hope that he -and it would be good for he and us- that he gets some starts under his belt. One, two, three or four. We are hoping he’s pitching in the playoffs and we win 15 in a row,” Showalter said.
NOTES: Showalter said that he wouldn’t guarantee that pitcher Oliver Drake and outfielder Junior Lake, who were sent to Norfolk after Monday’s game would return when the Tides are through with their playoff run.
“We’re always going to err on the side of helping the Baltimore club. Didn’t think they’d be playing and pitching here much and wanted to keep them active and contributing and continuing to develop. We’re still getting our arms around Junior. We want to keep him playing. He’s been in the big leagues. He doesn’t need to be exposed to the environment. Oliver has, too,” Showalter said.
-The Orioles will honor the U.S. champion Red Land Little League team before Saturday’s game. The Lewisberry, Pa. team lost to Japan in last month’s World Series Championship Game.
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