The Baltimore Orioles are already beginning to see some injury issues this spring, as it was revealed that J.J. Hardy is suffering from back spasms. This is something that’s plagued Hardy in the past, and he has missed time because of it. It seems to pop up either in spring or early in the regular season at times, most recently in 2014.
This is obviously a concern for an Orioles team that relies heavily on strong infield defense. However the good news for the Birds is that they have guys like Ryan Flaherty who can step right in and odds are not miss a beat. The O’s are expecting Hardy to resume baseball activities in early March. Furthermore, the expectation is that he can start playing in games perhaps by March 10th.
In the mean time, you knew the Orioles’ streak of wins in arbitration hearings was going to eventually come to an end. The Orioles had offered reliever Brad Brach $2.25 million, and he wanted $3.05 million. The arbitrators ruled in Brach’s favor, giving the Orioles only their second arbitration loss since Peter Angelos assumed ownership of the club. Some might argue that this shows Angelos to be cheap and obviously a good litigator. However the flip side is that perhaps the O’s under Angelos have simply been spot on when it comes to how much players are worth.
I myself was a bit shocked at the news given the Orioles’ track record. And I’ll be honest…in this situation I kind of sided with Brach. Anyone who watched the O’s last year should know how valuable he was to them. In many other cases it was almost laughable when players would go to arbitration with the Orioles, given their track record and the player’s production the previous year. But in this case my personal view was that Brach had a legitimate case. And the arbitrators felt the same way.