Thursday's off day — which halted a span of 20 games in 20 days for the Orioles — was a needed respite for everyone on the club.
But perhaps nobody appreciated it more than J.J. Hardy, who also had Wednesday off because manager Buck Showalter said his shortstop was dealing with a "barky" right shoulder.
Truthfully, Hardy said Saturday, his shoulder has been screaming and howling for the past couple weeks — hurting so much that he considered receiving a cortisone shot similar to the one he had in March when the problem first arose. Instead, Hardy has decided to stick with a rotator-cuff strengthening program — usually reserved for pitchers — that he says is definitely working.
"It was (a consideration), yeah. I took that shot in spring training and it was fine for about six weeks and then (pain) started to come back," said Hardy, who hit his 10th homer of the season Saturday. "But I told them I'll do it as kind of a last resort thing, but I want to do this treatment. I want to do this pitcher's rotator cuff program thing and see if we can't get it better without having to do the shot."
After two days of rest, Hardy played Friday and said his shoulder was "the best it has felt in a long time."
That's a sharp contrast from about a week ago. On May 17, during an afternoon game in Kansas City, Hardy said he was in extensive pain each time he threw a ball to first.
"That was the worst," said Hardy, who has played in 45 of the club's 47 games. "I judge it by that day, being the worst, and it hasn't been near that since. It could have been the long game the night before, the quick turnaround and it just didn't have time to recover. I don't know what it was, but that day was terrible. It hasn't been anywhere near that day since then."
Hardy has not had his shoulder pain diagnosed. He can't really describe it — it's not a shooting pain and it really only hurts when he makes a hard, quick throw. It's fine when he hits and when he can plant his feet and throw.
"If I can get a routine ground ball and I can get all my momentum going at first base, it's no problem. But it's the rush throws that hurt, double play balls where I can't get my feet underneath me and I have to throw all arm," Hardy said. "Or a relay throw or something like that. But for the most part I can make every throw and it's not going to affect me."
He has no plans on having a MRI at this point.
"No, and I don't really want one," Hardy said. "I am going to play through it no matter what. And if an MRI reveals something, then it will just play mind games with me. So I am going to keep doing this and I believe it is getting better."
Roberts takes day off
Second baseman Brian Roberts, who played in three straight games for Double-A Bowie, took a day from his minor-league rehab assignment and rejoined the Orioles for some workouts. He will be back with Bowie for Sunday and Monday and then is expected to play Tuesday and Wednesday for Low-A Delmarva.
He is working his schedule around when the regional affiliates are at home so he can commute from Baltimore and occasionally work with Orioles' trainers.
Roberts, who has been dealing with concussion symptoms, has not played in a big-league game since May 16, 2011.
His 20-day assignment in the minors expires June 11 — at which point the Orioles will have to recall him, assuming he is healthy.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he would like Roberts to get some work with Triple-A Norfolk, likely in a series in Buffalo that starts June 9. But, Showalter said, he is leaving that up to Roberts.
"I'm going to lean on him, what he wants to do with it," Showalter said. "But I am going to give (Triple-A) as an option."
Roberts is hitless in three at-bats with two walks and one run scored in parts of three games for the Baysox.
More from Bowie
In his first minor league rehabilitation start of the season, left-hander Zach Britton pitched five innings in the Baysox's 9-6 win over Altoona, allowing two runs, both unearned, on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts. The 24-year-old, who has been on the disabled list since March with a left shoulder impingement, threw 88 pitches, 56 for strikes, with one wild pitch.
Infielder Mark Reynolds (oblique strain) and outfielder Endy Chavez (intercostal strain) also made their first rehab starts for Bowie. Reynolds, who batted third and played third base, went 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts and committed a fielding error. Chavez, hitting leadoff and playing left field, had a single in five at-bats and scored twice.
Hall outrighted to Norfolk
Infielder Bill Hall, who played six games with the Orioles before being designated for assignment on Friday, cleared waivers Saturday and was outrighted to Norfolk.
The 32-year-old infielder had two hits, including a home run, in seven at-bats for the Orioles. He batted .222 in 63 at-bats in a 15-game stint earlier this year with the Tides. The veteran was signed as a minor-league free agent after he didn't make the New York Yankees this spring.
Around the horn
Right-hander Jason Hammel reported less soreness in his right knee on Saturday than he has the day after his previous two starts, making the Orioles believe the condition continues to improve. … Heading into Saturday, the Orioles have won nine of 10 against the American League Central this season and 16 of their last 19 against the AL Central dating back to 2011. … The Orioles' three stolen bases Friday marked the first time they had accomplished that feat in 2012.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times