Sid Hartman: J.J. Hardy slowly working his way back

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 29, 2010 - 11:45 PM

The shortstop says his left wrist isn't fully healthy, which limits his number of swings but hasn't affected his defense.

J.J. Hardy, the Twins shortstop who returned to the lineup this past week after missing 18 games because of a left wrist injury, is not fully healthy yet.

"I wouldn't say it's 100 percent. It still gets sore but it's nothing that I can't play through," he said. "I feel like it's going to take some time before it will be 100 percent."

Hardy, who injured the wrist sliding into third base on his ninth-inning triple that led to a victory over Detroit on May 4, returned Tuesday and went 2-for-11 in three games against the Yankees. He went 2-for-4 with a two-run bloop single in Saturday's 8-2 victory over the Rangers and is hitting .244 this season, .211 since returning to the lineup.

Hardy was asked how much being out of the lineup has affected how he feels at the plate.

"I am seeing the ball good. I just need to make some more adjustments," he said. "Right now, I can't swing too much because the more swings I take, the more sore my wrist gets, so it's kind of tough to work on what I need to."

However, he said the wrist doesn't trouble him in the field and that he feels comfortable there. He committed his first error all year Saturday, pretty exceptional given that it was his 30th game.

A year ago, Hardy lost his starting job with the Brewers and wound up in the minor leagues for a time in the summer.

"I always was optimistic and I felt good about it," the former NL All-Star said about getting back in the majors. "I already feel better this year than I did at any point last year."

Slowey back in form

There was some concern from the Twins about the future of righthander Kevin Slowey, who went 10-3 a year ago before needing surgery on his right wrist, which he first injured when he took a line drive off it near the end of the 2008 season. He made his last start of 2009 on July 3 and had surgery a month later.

But Slowey improved to 6-3 with a 4.15 ERA this season after beating Texas on Friday. He said the wrist hasn't given him any problems. His six victories are tied with Nick Blackburn for the team lead and tied for second in the American League.

"I'm able to kind of pitch through any discomfort, and there hasn't really been any time this year where I've felt like, 'Man, it just doesn't feel right,' so it's been good," said the 26-year-old Slowey, who has won 21 of his 30 decisions dating back to Aug. 8, 2008.

Slowey said he was concerned after the surgery whether he could come back and pitch well.

"Sure, yeah, and as it turned out it was a while before I was able to throw again, but I'm very thankful to be back and feeling healthy," he said. "...I'm trying to throw the same way as I did last year and the year before that. It may be a little while before it settles in, but everything feels good."

He said it was very tough to be sidelined with half a season remaining. Combined with Glen Perkins' injury problems and Francisco Liriano's inconsistency, the Twins ended up recalling Brian Duensing, Jeff Manship and Anthony Swarzak and trading for Carl Pavano to help fill out their rotation.

"Very tough, you know, but I was reminded that it was still my season even if I wasn't throwing," Slowey said. "It helped me really appreciate the fact that I'd been there and looked forward to getting back."

No change in schedule

Illinois and Wisconsin have agreed to extend the Big Ten football season in 2011 and 2012 into early December, but Gophers coach Tim Brewster said he is not in favor of possibly extending a future season- ending Iowa game past the normal November date.

Defensive backs Herschel Thornton and Dwight Tillman of Lackawanna College signed to play for the Gophers, but they are facing academic problems and aren't likely to be on campus this fall. ... Brendan Beal, a top- recruited linebacker from Bangor, Pa., who enrolled at the University of Florida, is now going to transfer to the Gophers. He will have to sit out a year as a transfer before being eligible to play.

Two of the outstanding players from Florida that signed letters of intent with the Gophers -- Donnell Kirkwood of Atlantic High School in Delray Beach and Tyrone Bouie of Seminole High School in Sanford -- are already in school and involved in what they call the Maymester, a shorter session of summer school.

Matt Carufel, the former Cretin-Derham Hall offensive lineman who transferred from Notre Dame to the Gophers and started last year, had orthopedic surgery on his shoulder after spring practice and should be able to play a lot better now that the problem that troubled him some last season has been corrected. ... Gophers safety Kim Royston, who broke his leg in spring practice, is making progress ahead of schedule and should be able to take part when fall practice starts. ... Shady Solomon, who has played running back with the Gophers, will definitely be a safety this fall. ... And Gophers wide receiver Bryant Allen, who suffered an ankle injury in spring drills, should also be available this season. ... Quarterback Clint Brewster, the son of coach Tim who started his college career with the Gophers, now is at Tennessee Tech playing for coach Watson Brown, brother of Texas coach Mack Brown. Clint Brewster is expected to be a starting quarterback this fall for the Division I-AA team.

George McDonald, who left the Gophers coaching staff to join the staff of the Cleveland Browns last year, is back with the Browns for the 2010 season after briefly leaving for Rutgers in January before going back when the NFL team offered him a two-year deal with a raise.

Jottings

The Minneapolis City Council and Mayor R.T. Rybak, who refuse to do anything to help the Vikings with their stadium problem, should be happy that after about five years, the millions they spent for moving the Shubert Theater is going to pay off because finally construction is underway to get the performing arts dance venue ready for a future opening.

Tanner Scheppers, who was 1-1 with a 3.22 ERA in four games pitching for the St. Paul Saints last year before getting selected by Texas in the supplementary draft, entered Saturday 1-0 with a 1.12 ERA in 12 minor league relief appearances this year, with 41 strikeouts in 24 innings. The 23-year-old righthander is at Class AAA Oklahoma City.

Recently, Masters champion Phil Mickelson hit a few balls at Interlachen Country Club as a part of a corporate affair.

Spending time in Toronto the past week were four future Gophers -- Max Gardiner and Justin Holl of Minnetonka, Mark Alt of Cretin-Derham Hall and Nick Bjugstad of Blaine -- who were part of 100 players invited to take part in the NHL scouting combine. Tyler Pitlick of Minnesota State Mankato also was invited. Central Scouting ranks Bjugstad 13th among domestic skaters, Pitlick 18th, Alt 37th, Hall 47th and Gardiner 49th.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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