BALTIMORE – After missing six of the last seven games with back spasms, J.J. Hardy returns to the starting lineup.
“It’s been a long week for me,” Hardy said. “These back spasms are no fun, and hopefully they’re behind me, and I don’t have to deal with them for the rest of the year.”
Hardy missed just seven games in the past two years, so he’s not used to sitting.
“I think I’ll be 100 percent when I do something in the game without thinking about it. The last step is getting over mentally and that won’t come until I do something in the game, just kind of a reaction play in the game, and I realize, ‘huh, I’m better,’’’ Hardy said.
David Lough also returns to the starting lineup for the first time since Monday. He’s been through a battery of tests for concussion symptoms.
“I feel good. I’m in the lineup so everything’s good,” Lough said.
Manager Buck Showalter was cautious with both Hardy and Lough.
“I think we waited maybe an extra day to be on the safe side, J.J.’s excited to get back out there. David feels good,” Showalter said.
Lough missed a week in spring training with what was labeled a stiff neck. He went through similar tests last month.
“It’s the same symptoms I was dealing with Sarasota. We took a different approach and hopefully this time we figured it out,” Lough said.
“If I’m in the lineup, Buck feels confident in me, and I feel confident in myself and my ability to compete at this level.”