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Hardy close to starting rehab assignment

ST. PETERSBURG -- Shortstop J.J. Hardy is expected to start a rehab assignment next week with Class A Advanced Frederick, a welcome sign that the infielder is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a left-shoulder strain.

Hardy was out on the field prior to the O's-Rays game at Tropicana Field, taking infield for the second time since the injury. He said Tuesday's session was a lot better than the previous one.

Hardy can be activated from the 15-day disabled list anytime after Saturday, but manager Buck Showalter said he won't get into a rehab game until after Monday.

The Gold Glover may not need a lengthy rehab given that he played in a good chunk of spring games.

David Lough (hamstring) did not play in Tuesday's intrasquad game and it's looking less likely that he will be activated on Saturday. Lough did participate in baseball activities in Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday and is hoping to play Wednesday, but only if he's 100 percent.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
Read More: Baltimore Orioles, J.J. Hardy, David Lough