Shoulder strain sidelines Hardy at season's outset

Shortstop shut down until swelling subsides

Shoulder strain sidelines Hardy at season's outset

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who will miss the start of the season with a left-shoulder strain, said the priority is to reduce the swelling in the area to help him get back to baseball activities.

Hardy is expected to be placed on the disabled list and could return April 11 at the earliest.

"They found exactly what they thought it was," Hardy said of Monday's MRI with injected dye. "I didn't know it was going to take 10 days or whatever they're saying to get all the swelling out and get the strength back. So that's a little disappointing, but I guess it could have been a lot worse. I feel better today than I did yesterday. At this rate, who knows how long it's going to be."

Hardy, who was injured diving for a ground ball on Friday. Without him, the O's options at shortstop are Ryan Flaherty and Everth Cabrera, who were competing for a roster spot until this injury. Hardy's DL stay, coupled with injuries to David Lough and Matt Wieters, will test Baltimore's depth immediately.

"I think one of the strengths of the team is that guys can step in and fill in, whoever that may be on any given night," said Flaherty. "We've just got to hold the fort down until he's ready to come back and play."

Cabrera, who has also spent time in the outfield, got the start at shortstop on Tuesday against the Rays and feels like he's gotten enough work over there this spring.

"Yeah, I've been working out with [third-base coach] Bobby Dickerson. [There's] a couple things he showed me," Cabrera said. "I feel like I am getting better. You are always going to be better from [camp]."

Hardy still hopes to be with the team for Monday's Opening Day in St. Petersburg, though he hasn't sat down to discuss things with manager Buck Showalter. His shoulder has continued to improve since Saturday, which is certainly a good sign, and Hardy agreed he was a little surprised with the shutdown.

"I mean, a little bit. I don't know how they can make these timetables," Hardy said. "I feel better. That's kind of what I'm going off of, so if I'm feeling better, then who knows how long it will be?"

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.