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Updated: April 10th, 2010 10:16am
J.J. Hardy strikes again as Twins win

J.J. Hardy strikes again as Twins win

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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It's only five games into the season, but Minnesota Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy is looking like his old self -- and then some.

Hardy drove in the tying run in the 11th inning of Friday's 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox, made a spectacular defensive play and finished 2-for-5 to improve his batting average to .333. He's also slugging .619, thanks to a pair of home runs in Anaheim, and has reached base nine times in 23 plate appearances (.391).

Yeah, it's early, but the Twins have been optimistic the offseason trade that brought Hardy over from the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Carlos Gomez could end up being a steal.

Gomez's lack of baseball savvy made him a poor fit for the Twins. The team viewed Hardy as a dependable fielder with an accurate arm who brought value even if he never again was a 24-homer, .800-plus OPS as he was in 2008.

Hardy showed discipline early in his 11th-inning at-bat, taking two close pitches out of an 0-2 count before driving the 2-2 pitch through the left side of the infield.

Not many No. 8 hitters get chances to bat No. 3, as Hardy did with catcher Joe Mauer taking (most of) a night off on Friday. But his production so far speaks to the depth of a lineup that is the Twins' deepest in recent memory.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
In this story: J.J. Hardy, Joe Mauer
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