As I write this article, the clock states that it is 12:46 p.m. on Monday, May 19. One thing it does not show—but I’ve been waiting for it—is J.J. Hardy’s first home run this season.
If you think I’m worried though, I’m not.
So far, through 34 games and 129 at-bats, Hardy has yet to hit his first home run of the 2014 season. Some might find that odd, given the power-hitting shortstop’s track record over the past few seasons with the Orioles, but I’m not too concerned. At least not yet.
Last year Hardy hit 25 home runs. In 2012 he hit 22, and in 2011 he hit 30, so fans are accustomed to watching the heavy-hitting shortstop put the ball over the fence.
I tell those fans that patience is a virtue.
One issue to keep in mind during this power outage could be his troublesome hamstring (a strained right hamstring to be specific) which has caused him to miss some time this year. Hamstring injuries can be nagging over the course of a long, 162-game season. Over his last seven games he is batting .296 (eight for 27) with two doubles.
While he has yet to go yard this season, I wouldn’t mind too much. If we go back in time to last year, Hardy hit his first home runs on April 4. In 2012, Hardy hit his first home run on April 8. If we go back to his first season in Baltimore though, he didn’t hit his first home run until May 10. In fact, by June 1, he had hit only two home runs (the other on May 15), and as I mentioned earlier, he went on to hit 30 that year.
So let’s wait just a little before we hit the panic button.
Luckily for the O’s, Nelson Cruz has been picking up the home run slack, hitting 12 so far, which is good for second in the American League behind Jose Abreu’s 15. So while we wait for Hardy to get his first, let’s enjoy watching the O’s battle for first with or without a Hardy home run.
by Andy Mindzak