J.J. Hardy nearing minor league rehab assignment

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Orioles manager Buck Showalter provided good news Tuesday on the status of shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had to be placed on the 15-day disabled list before Opening Day because of a left shoulder strain.

Hardy will take dry swings on Wednesday and then progress to live batting practice. If that all goes well, MASN’s Roch Kubatko says he should be cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment early next week with the High-A Frederick Keys.

Ryan Flaherty and Everth Cabrera are filling in at shortstop for the Orioles in the early going. Flaherty slugged a solo home run in Monday’s opener.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.