O's activate Hardy, place Cabrera on 15-day DL

O's activate Hardy, place Cabrera on 15-day DL

NEW YORK -- J.J. Hardy returned to the Orioles' starting lineup on Thursday and made his long-awaited season debut after starting the season on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain. To clear a roster spot, the O's placed Everth Cabrera on the 15-day DL with a left foot contusion.

Hardy went 0-for-4 in the Orioles' 4-3 loss to the Yankees, but he showed off his range defensively with a nice play at shortstop.

Hardy went 4-for-12 with a double and an RBI in three games for Double-A Bowie earlier this week and said he was OK doing some of the things he was worried about going in.

"Swing and misses, getting fooled on offspeed stuff and letting go with the top hand," Hardy said of the tests he wanted his left shoulder to pass. "I did that quite a few times, so it was all right."

Hardy said he will continue to be on a "pitchers type" of rehab, strengthening the muscles around his shoulder to keep that area healthy. The shortstop, who was hurt at the end of spring, admitted it's been a much slower process than he originally had anticipated to make his season debut.

"It seemed like it was taking forever," Hardy said. "I guess six weeks, right? Six weeks tomorrow. Yeah, it definitely took longer than I thought."

But the Orioles were adamant about not rushing the All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, waiting until Hardy was 100 percent.

"He's ready to go. We wouldn't have brought him back if we thought that [managing his shoulder] was a challenge," manager Buck Showalter said. "We were not going to rush it. We could have done it earlier, but we want to get it all resolved in there. We felt we did. Regardless of what happens, it's still a different speed up here even."

Cabrera sustained his injury in Wednesday's game against the Mets when he was hit by a pitch, and he had an X-ray on Thursday, which came back negative.

He will undergo an MRI on Friday, and the infielder is hopeful he will be ready to return as soon as he's eligible.

"Yeah, I was kind of surprised, because last night, it was about a 75-[mph] curveball that hit me on the top [of the foot]," he said. "I was playing normal, and I woke up this morning and it was really sore. It is [maybe] something in there."

Ryan Flaherty, who traveled with Hardy, also played three games at Bowie and will be activated on Friday. That's the first day he is eligible to come off the 15-day DL.

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.