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Hardy, Lough return to O's lineup

Special to MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- Shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder David Lough were back in the Orioles starting lineup for Saturday's game against the visiting Blue Jays.

Hardy, who has been sidelined twice this year with back spasms, last played a week ago. Lough, suffering from concussion-like symptoms, played Wednesday in New York as a late-inning defensive replacement. His last start was Monday against the Yankees.

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BALTIMORE -- Shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder David Lough were back in the Orioles starting lineup for Saturday's game against the visiting Blue Jays.

Hardy, who has been sidelined twice this year with back spasms, last played a week ago. Lough, suffering from concussion-like symptoms, played Wednesday in New York as a late-inning defensive replacement. His last start was Monday against the Yankees.

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Lough made a timely return, delivering the walk-off hit in a 2-1, 12-inning win. Hardy was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.

Both were cleared to play on Friday, according to Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who added that he wanted to give them an additional day to recover.

Lough was sidelined in Spring Training with the same ailment. After his most recent bout with concussion-like symptoms this week, doctors said he did not have a concussion, Showalter said.

"It's the same symptoms I was dealing with in Sarasota," said Lough, who hit in the eight-hole Saturday. "We took a different approach. Hopefully this time we figured it out."

After missing just seven games the last two seasons combined, Hardy already has missed six this year.

"It's been a long week for me. Spasms are no fun," Hardy said. "I hope they're behind me and I don't have to deal with it for the rest of the year."

Hardy admitted to being mystified by the ailment. His first series of spasms came in the season's third game while at the plate. After sitting out one day, another wave of spasms hit Hardy while he was playing the field against the Tigers.

"It's tough. I thought I was all better going into Detroit," Hardy said. "Then I took that ground ball and my back locked up on me, so you just don't know."

Hardy hit in the six-hole on Saturday.

"I think I will be 100 percent when I do something in the game without thinking about it," Hardy said. "The last step is getting over it mentally. That won't come until I do something that's kind of a reaction play in the game and realizing I'm better."

There was an example in Saturday's game when he took a pickoff throw and slapped the tag on Jose Bautista.

"I watched five tag plays in my office after the game last night," Showalter said. "There were five tag plays that guys would have been out if they had gone to a straddle-the-bag as the throw's coming like J.J. does it. Those are five outs that he would have gotten. Best tagger I've ever had. They don't chart taggers. They don't chart accuracy. They don't chart being in the right place on the relay. I can go on and on."

Kevin Dunleavy is a contributor to MLB.com

Baltimore Orioles, J.J. Hardy, David Lough