Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy cleared for rehab assignment

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It’s taken much longer than initially expected, but the Orioles have cleared shortstop J.J. Hardy to begin a minor-league rehab assignment as he comes back from a left shoulder injury that’s sidelined him all season.

Nearly a month ago Hardy was said to be “close” to starting a rehab stint, but instead he continued to rest before receiving a cortisone injection in late April. Now he’s set to play Monday night at Double-A and will likely play at least 3-4 games there before potentially coming off the disabled list, according to Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.

Hardy’s return would provide a much-needed boost to the Orioles’ injury wrecked middle infield, which of late has consisted of Everth Cabrera at shortstop and 32-year-old Steve Pearce seeing his first career action at second base.