As a minor leaguer Manny Machado was an elite shortstop prospect, but because the Orioles had J.J. Hardy there when he arrived in 2012 they shifted Machado to third base and he’s stayed there ever since.
Machado has developed into an MVP-caliber third baseman and not surprisingly his excellent defense there has been a huge part of his overall value, but tonight for the first time in his career the Orioles are starting him at shortstop.
Hardy was placed on the disabled list with a groin injury last week and manager Buck Showalter has decided he’d rather use Machado at a position he hasn’t played since 2012 than continue to use Ryan Flaherty and Paul Janish at shortstop fill-ins. Or at least that’s the case for one night.
Machado showing that he can be an above-average defensive shortstop would increase his already massive long-term value even further, although with Hardy signed through 2017 it’s likely just a short-term fix for the Orioles unless it leads to an offseason trade.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy has already been slumping and now Rich Dubroff of CSNMidAtlantic.com reports that he’s headed to the disabled list with a left groin injury.
The injury has bothered Hardy for a few days. The 33-year-old was held out of today’s lineup against the Twins, but entered the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning before leaving for a pinch-runner in the 11th. Hardy admitted to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun after the game that he felt some discomfort while running and walking, so it was decided that a trip to the disabled list is the best course of action.
Hardy is still very good defensively, but he continues to decline at the plate. He’s hitting just .145 this month and .222/.253/.315 with seven home runs and 32 RBI on the year.
Ryan Flaherty figures to get most of the playing time at shortstop with Hardy sidelined. It’s worth noting that Manny Machado made his first major league appearance at shortstop in the 12th inning today after Hardy left the game. He committed an error which opened the door for the winning run to score.
Following Saturday afternoon’s loss to the White Sox, the Orioles activated second baseman Jonathan Schoop from the 15-day disabled list. To make room for him on the roster, Ryan Flaherty was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
Schoop, 23, was off to a good start before suffering a sprained PCL. In his first nine games, he hit .259/.310/.630 with three home runs and seven RBI in 29 plate appearances.
Flaherty, 28, hit .245/.322/.384 with three home runs and 20 RBI in 173 plate appearances.