Hardy could return for opener vs. Yankees

Hardy could return for opener vs. Yankees

NEW YORK -- Shortstop J.J. Hardy made his third rehab start for Double-A Bowie on Wednesday night, and manager Buck Showalter said that it's possible he will join the team at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.

Hardy has been rehabbing along with infielder Ryan Flaherty, who isn't eligible to come off the disabled list until Friday. Still, the pair could travel together, and Hardy, who hasn't played in five weeks, will likely be added to the roster before Thursday's game.

"We have to talk to J.J. and Ryan in another form so we've got an idea of what we're going to do," said Showalter, who talked with Hardy before Wednesday's game, a 5-1 loss to the Mets. "We'll get our arms around if there's anything we don't know about."

Hardy doesn't have any more tests to pass, and his arrival would likely mean the optioning of infielder Rey Navarro back to Triple-A Norfolk.

"[Hardy has] passed everything physically," Showalter said prior to the game. "We'd lean on J.J. to a point. There are some things I wouldn't ask him that he shouldn't have to decide. It's not fair to him. When you get to know a guy like we know J.J., he knows what's needed and expected at this level, so he's very close. We're just hoping we can get through tonight."

Clearing a roster spot for Flaherty could involve infielder Everth Cabrera, who committed a baserunning blunder on Wednesday and has an option remaining.

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.