MINNEAPOLIS -- After spending 18 games on the disabled list, J.J. Hardy was back in the starting lineup at shortstop for the Twins on Tuesday night against the Yankees, recording a double to right-center field off A.J. Burnett in his first at-bat. Hardy, who had a deep bone bruise in his left wrist, was activated before Tuesday's game. With Hardy back, shortstop Trevor Plouffe was optioned back to Triple-A Rochester to open up a spot on the roster. Hardy said he feels fine and is able to do everything asked of him and that the injury feels better every day. He added that the only time the wrist gets sore is if he takes 10 consecutive swings at 100 percent, which the shortstop doesn't foresee happening in a game situation.
"The last three days, I've pretty much been trying to hurt it by going as hard as I can," Hardy said. "It's been fine and it's not getting worse, so I'm pretty confident it's ready to go." Hardy said he will hold his batting gloves in his hand as a reminder not to put his hand down when sliding -- the way his wrist got injured initially. He also said he will wear a brace when he is on the basepaths to prevent movement.
Hardy said it might take him an at-bat or two to get back into the flow of things, but he isn't too worried about the playing time he missed over the past two weeks."I'm going to go out there and battle it out and hope it feels like I didn't miss a game," Hardy said. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is excited to have Hardy back in the lineup, saying the shortstop is someone who can produce RBIs at the bottom of the lineup. While Hardy was out, the Twins went 8-10; when he has played this season, the club is 18-8. Hardy admitted he was antsy while sitting on the bench during that stretch and was ready to get back on the field. "It's definitely not easy," Hardy said. "I want to be out there, and I thought this was going to be a two- or three-day thing. It's been a long 18 games, so I'm pretty excited to be back out there."