Hardy leaves O's to have back examined in Baltimore

Shortstop likely to have MRI today; club calls move precautionary

Hardy leaves O's to have back examined in Baltimore

BOSTON -- Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who has been dealing with low back soreness for the past week, caught a flight from Boston to Baltimore on Monday night. He will be examined by team orthopedist Michael Jacobs on Tuesday afternoon in what the team is calling a precautionary move.

Hardy, who has missed three straight games, will probably have an MRI and didn't seem overly concerned as he reminded reporters that he was dealing with more aggressive back spasms back in April.

"Detroit I'd say was worse because the muscles completely locked up. I knew I was all spasmed up to where I couldn't play," Hardy said. "I feel like now [in an] emergency situation I could [play], I just don't want to get to that point like Detroit, and that's why I'm going back to Baltimore."

Both Hardy and manager Buck Showalter said this is a precautionary move and if the team, up 9 1/2 games in the American League East entering Monday, was in a different situation, Hardy would remain with the team.

"I think the plan is to do an MRI [on Tuesday], I'm not sure," Showalter said. "Mike, when I talked to him, had already seen the previous MRI, feels pretty confident with what we are dealing with ... if [Hardy] had to play, he could play. Just trying to get ahead of it."

The O's are clearly trying to ensure Hardy is OK for the postseason, and there's no expectation he will return to Boston during this series. With an off-day Thursday and a doubleheader Friday, Showalter said he was hoping to have Hardy back for the start of the homestand

"The last couple days I felt a lot of improvement and I came in today thinking that I wanted to do baseball stuff and I did," said Hardy, who said hitting was more difficult than fielding. "It was good, just not quite good enough where I want to risk injuring it to the point where I miss a week or two. And if we can try to knock it out and get it done before that, I think that's the safe play."

Hardy, who left last Monday afternoon's game against the Twins, returned to the lineup Wednesday. But after Friday's series opener against the Rays in St. Petersburg, Showalter opted to play it safe and rested Hardy for the remainder of the weekend.

Hardy missed six games in April, including five in a row, with back spasms that seemed to respond well to a cortisone injection. The team is hoping to get in front of the issue this time around, with Ryan Flaherty getting the bulk of the playing time in Hardy's absence.

"I told J.J. I really don't want him to come back [Tuesday] and then be right back on the plane again with a day game the next day. So, we'll see," Showalter said. "I'm expecting him to play, hoping everything resolves itself and he plays Friday."

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.