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Hardy reflects as he returns to Miller Park

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, on the disabled list with a fractured wrist and a cracked rib, was not supposed to make this road trip. But since it began in Milwaukee, where his career started, Hardy asked for and was granted an exception.

"I wanted to come back," Hardy said.

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MILWAUKEE -- Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, on the disabled list with a fractured wrist and a cracked rib, was not supposed to make this road trip. But since it began in Milwaukee, where his career started, Hardy asked for and was granted an exception.

"I wanted to come back," Hardy said.

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The 34-year-old was Milwaukee's second-round Draft pick in 2001 and made it to the Majors in 2005, a key part of a core group of prospects that included Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. In Hardy's rookie season in 2005, Milwaukee finished at .500 to snap a streak of 12 straight losing seasons. 

"He's had a great run in Baltimore. It's not surprising. It's not surprising at all," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, a former teammate of Hardy's. "He's found a home, and he likes it there. They like him, and he's been a really consistent player, for sure."

Tweet from @Brewers: There's a familiar face. �� pic.twitter.com/uTAKZKqbuA

Counsell was among the few familiar faces left at Miller Park. Hardy was also eager to catch up with Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker, first-base coach Ed Sedar (Hardy's first Minor League manager) and Braun.

It caught him off guard when Hardy was reminded that his first All-Star appearance was 10 years ago.

"This is my 13th year, and it's flown by," Hardy said. "This is my seventh season in Baltimore. After '09 here, which I probably would say was by far my worst year as far as baseball and growing up -- it was terrible -- I feel like I'm a different player, a different person."

The Brewers traded Hardy to the Twins after that season and he played one forgettable year in Minnesota before another trade to Baltimore. There, Hardy found a home, winning three American League Gold Gloves, making another All-Star Game and helping the Orioles reach the postseason in 2012, '14 and '16, after an absence that dated back to 1997.

"I love the atmosphere [as an Oriole]. It's like, 'You guys are grown men. You better be prepared, do what you need to do,'" Hardy said. "It's kind of the same thing I thought about my time here, turning the organization around [after] a bunch of losing seasons and getting in the postseason three of the last five years."

Worth noting

• Right-hander Mike Wright began a throwing program Monday. Wright has been on the disabled list since June 16 with right shoulder bursitis.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

Baltimore Orioles, J.J. Hardy