The Baltimore Orioles have had their share of problems during the 2011 baseball season. Injuries, bad pitching, lack of clutch hitting and poor fundamentals are just some of the things that have hampered the Birds this summer. However, there have been some bright spots for the team. And one of them has been the play of veteran shortstop J.J. Hardy.

This past Saturday, the club and Hardy agreed to a three-year contract extension that will pay him between $22 and $22.5 million. With top prospect Manny Machado still a couple of years away from the big leagues, this is a good move for Baltimore.

Hardy has provided pop at the top of the lineup in place of the injured Brian Roberts and has been nearly flawless defensively. Still only 28, Hardy is also respected within the clubhouse. Aquired from the Twins for minor-league pitchers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobsen, Hardy’s .825 OPS leads the team.

If there is a concern with Hardy, it’s injuries. He has already missed a month this season with a strained oblique and has not played in more than 115 games since 2008 with the Brewers. By offering a three-year deal, it appears as though the Orioles aren’t too worried about Hardy’s durability.

The Birds have been looking for some stability at SS since Miguel Tejada’s first go around with the team. By keeping Hardy and with Machado eventually making his way to Camden Yards, the Orioles, hopefully, will be set at that position fo many years to come.


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