J.J. Hardy aiming to return from back injury on Monday

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Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy was hoping that a day off last Tuesday would solve his lower back spasms, but he did not feel well enough to play on Saturday and he is out of Baltimore’s starting lineup again for Sunday afternoon’s series finale in Tampa Bay.

Hardy told MASN’s Roch Kubatko that he hopes to return to action Monday night when the O’s travel to Boston’s Fenway Park and simply didn’t want to risk a flareup on the unforgiving turf at Tropicana Field.

Baltimore boasts an MLB-high 8 1/2 game lead in the American League East standings, allowing for caution with minor injuries. Ryan Flaherty is filling in at shortstop Sunday versus the Rays as the Orioles try to avoid a three-game sweep.