Last season was rough for Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy. He had his 2nd worst season batting average of his career in 2012. He batted just .238 which was down from his phenomenal 2011 season when he posted a batting average of .269. The 30-year old veteran was one of the few Orioles that did not miss lengthy amounts of time due to injury.
The Orioles are hoping that last season was just an off year for Hardy, as he is capable of being a consistent threat at the top of the order. Spring Training has not been very good to Hardy as he is struggling mightily, batting just .094 with two of his three hits being home runs.
If Hardy is to struggle again this season, the Orioles have Ryan Flaherty waiting in line. Now Flaherty may be listed as a SS on the Orioles depth chart, however last season he played at seven different positions (2B, 3B, LF, RF, SS, 1B, and DH). The jack of all trades fielder, primarily played 2B, SS, and 3B in the minors over the course of four seasons with the Chicago Cubs farm system.
Other than Hardy, the only other player that has played some time at SS this Spring is Orioles prospect Adrian Marin,who has just one year of experience in Single-A. The 19-year old has appeared in just three games.
With that being said it appears as if the Orioles are putting all over their stock with Hardy and anticipating he will bounce back with a more productive season at the plate. His fielding was not the issue, but rather his inconsistency with the bat.
Another option that could happen down the road as Hardy wears down, is moving current 3B, Manny Machado to SS. Originally, when the Orioles called Machado up from the minors, he was positioned at SS. A few games prior to being called up Machado had began taking reps at 3B with Double-A Bowie.